Ice cream cakes are made of layers of ice cream of different flavors, sometimes with baked cake layers or other ingredients mixed or layered in. As a frozen dessert, ice cream cakes can be made ahead of time, but thawing an ice cream cake before serving requires careful timing.
1. Refrigerator Thawing
Thawing your ice cream cake in the refrigerator is the recommended method. Place the cake in the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
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But this recommendation is based upon the standard 40-degree-Fahrenheit temperature of a refrigerator. If you keep your refrigerator temperature colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, allow additional thawing time.
Some ice cream flavors freeze harder than others. Chocolate, for instance, freezes harder than vanilla. Rum-flavored and caramel-flavored ice creams tend to remain soft in comparison to chocolate and vanilla.
Some experimentation is necessary to determine the optimal thawing time for ice cream cake with combined ice cream flavors. Ice creams containing polysorbate 80 tend to keep its shape longer than ice creams without this ingredient.
2. Countertop Thawing
You can also thaw an ice cream cake for 8 to 10 minutes on a countertop before serving. The actual thawing time depends upon the types of ice cream and other ingredients in your cake as well as the temperature of your freezer. (Freezers should be kept at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Food and Drug Administration.)
While countertop thawing isn't recommended for meats and vegetables, the danger of thawing ice cream at room temperature is the outside melting while the inside remains hard.
Garnish ice cream cake with fruit before serving, if desired. Do not place fruit garnish on your cake before freezing, as fruit takes longer to thaw than ice cream and will be crunchy when the cake is served.
Other toppings, such as melted caramel or fudge can be added before serving for a softer texture. For clean, smooth ice cream cake slices, heat a knife in hot water and dry with a paper towel before cutting into the cake. Heat and dry the knife for each slice of cake.