This berry ice-cream cake captures the ephemeral juicy berries of spring and transforms them into the creamiest ice-cream I have ever tasted. You can just make the ice-cream and enjoy every last silky, creamy, airy bite or you can go the extra step and impress those you love with the perfect berry-licious ice-cream cake.
Stepping from the bright sunlight of a Providence afternoon into the dim interior of my Bulgarian neighbor’s house I exhaled the troubles of my teenage life and inhaled the old world. Slipping the key into my jean pocket I made my way to the kitchen past the dark wooden harpsichord and the bowls arranged with ornately painted wooden eggs. I rummaged in the fridge, arranged a tray with buttered toast and placed small ripe berries in the prettiest bowl I could find.
“…when I checked the other day, I found it – my strawberry patch – overgrown and hidden under weeds, but still there…like secrets, like memories. You can make yourself believe that they have been erased. But they are there, if you look closely. If you have a wish to uncover them.”
-Linda Olsson, Astrid and Veronika
Making my way up the narrow stairs to where Debussey spilled like dark cherry juice from the radio I called out to let Mamushka know I had arrived. She sat up in bed, blooming like a sweet-pea vine in powdery profusion, wrinkled and pale from head to toe.
They were all a little sleepy, soaked in sunshine and breathing the fruity smell of berries.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”
This 6 inch cake packs a wallop of intense berry flavors. It is my little ode to the ephemeral nature of spring. No worries if you are lacking fresh berries, frozen work wonderfully as well.
- 1 cup cashews (soaked 8 hours in water or overnight)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 banana
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup blackberries, if frozen thawed
- 1 cup strawberries, if frozen thawed
- 3/4 cup thick aquafaba
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp Cointreau liquor
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 5 dates
- 2 tbsp almonds
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- 1/2 tbsp cocoa nibs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp coconut flakes
- fresh berries for garnish
- 8 fresh strawberries for garnish optional
Soak your cashew in water for at least 8 hours. If you have never soaked cashews before you will think they have gone off because they get a bloated water logged appearance. All is well. Continue.
I used an 8 inch spring form pan.
Place all of the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a crumbly mass that holds together if you squeeze it in the palm of your hand.
Press your dough along the bottom and a bit up the sides of your spring form pan. Press it well and good until you have a thin layer coating the bottom of your pan and rising up the sides as far as you want esthetically. Place the springform pan with the crust in the freezer to chill while you make the fillings.
In a food processor blend 1/2 cup of the cashews, 1/2 tbsp of the coconut oil, 1 tbsp of the lemon juice, a small pinch of salt, 1/4 banana and 1 cup room temperature blackberries (plus any juice that leached out from defrosting) until smooth. Now strain the mixture if you don't want the tiny seeds from the blackberries. I leave mine in.
Rinse and dry your blender and add 1/2 cup of the cashews, 1/2 tbsp of the coconut oil, 1 tbsp of the lemon juice, a small pinch of salt, 1/4 banana and 1 cup room temperature strawberries with any juice that leached out while defrosting until smooth. Now strain out the seeds if you prefer ice-cream with out seeds.
Pour in your cooled aquafaba (that has been reduced on the stove to the consistency of egg whites) and cream of tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whip on high until stiff peaks form. This will take anywhere from 5 -10 minutes. Add the liquor or vanilla extract, if you prefer, and whip another minute. Slowly add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time to the whipping bowl. Whip at least 30 seconds between additions.
Once all the sugar has been added beat 2 more minutes to breakdown the grains of sugar. You should have stiff peaks. Turn off the mixer.
Separate your aquafaba into two large bowls. Into one bowl of whipped aquafaba very gently fold in the strawberry mixture. Into the other bowl fold the blackberry mixture.
Scoop enough of the blackberry/aquafaba mixture into the chilled pan to fill half way and gently smooth the top. Now scoop the strawberry/aquafaba layer on top and fill the pan the rest of the way. If you have extra berry aquafaba mixture then place it in a covered container and freeze until firm and you will have a little extra ice-cream for sneaking. Cover the top of your cake pan with aluminum foil to avoid freezer burn. Place your ice-cream cake in the freezer at least 12 hours.
When the cake is ready, unmold it (un-springform it) and place it back in the freezer. I personally don't remove the bottom round of the pan from the cake. Call it a lack of bravery on my part but that is how I roll. Now slice your strawberries super thin. Take your cake out of the freezer and gently press the slices of strawberry around the edge of the cake in a pleasing design.
Feel free to pop it back in the freezer at this point and leave it there till after dinner when you are ready to serve it.