Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week 14: Rainbow - Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Cake

I'd like to preface this post with an apology for the length and extensive use of pictures.  I went a little nuts. But, I am quite proud of myself with this creation and so far in these challenges, this is my favorite thing I've made, so bear with me. 

For those of you who are not from the Southside of Chicago, there is a magical place there called Rainbow Cone.  It is the most delicious ice cream treat I've ever had and on a hot, sticky, summer night there is just nothing better than a rainbow cone. Rather than scoop the ice cream they use a spade and sorta slab on the rainbow of flavors you see below. 

On the heels of several birthdays, including my fabulous mother and my loving husband, I found myself looking for something that was half birthday cake half Easter dessert. The rainbow theme could not have fallen on a better week!

While I didn't use a recipe exactly, I will share with you my process and give you tips to help you avoid my pit falls -of which there weren't many thank goodness. This is a day-ahead process so start early and make sure you have freezer space.

First, buy a yellow cake mix (or make your own, you show off), whole walnuts (maybe 1/2c. depending on your love of walnuts), a small jar of maraschino cherries, and the following ice creams:
  • Orange Sherbet (any vanilla/orange mix will not do. You must get the good stuff which means buying a tub of it... for some reason it is next to impossible to get orange sherbet in a reasonable sized container)
  • Pistachio 
  • Neapolitan (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) in the rectangular box for easy cutting
Make your cake and let it cool. While it is cooking or cooling cut your Neapolitan into three flavors -allow some of the vanilla to be in the chocolate and strawberry since it will blend right in, but try to get your vanilla to be just vanilla. 

To make the Palmer House - which cannot be bought that I know of, throw the whole walnuts into the vanilla as it is getting melty...

then add about a handful of rough chopped maraschino cherries and mix! I put this back in the freezer to chill and to try and hope the flavors would meld a bit. It totally worked, but I've never done it any other way, so who am I to say!

 I used 9" rounds same as the actual cake size so the layers would fit on top. If I'd had parchment or wax paper I would have used that to line the pans, but the tin foil worked just fine.  I was nervous but the ice cream came out  of these easily. This whole process of melting and spreading the ice cream reminded me of making ice cream soup as a kid.

I wished I'd had an articulated frosting spatula to get a flatter surface, but the back of a spatula worked fine for spreading. I stuck this in the freezer and brought out the strawberry to melt.

The melting doesn't take long - maybe 5 to 10 minutes - and that was long enough for the chocolate layer to harden enough to make spreading the strawberry layer fairly easy.

SO pretty! The strawberry and chocolate are the only two layers in this cake pan. I would add a third layer to this cake pan if I had it to do over. Any Rainbow Cone enthusiast knows that the orange sherbet needs to be the thickest layer so I would only put two layers in that pan next time. 

Palmer house out of the freezer while the strawberry and chocolate layers harden up.

Palmer house on the bottom of the second pan then threw it in the freezer to harden while the pistachio melted.

I used Ben and Jerry's pistachio ice cream and it is a boring natural cream color so I had to dye it green. I went a little over board but it turned out a nice green in the end.

Here is the dye all mixed in.

Pistachio on top of the now frozen Palmer House.

And, finally, the orange sherbet! This melts the weirdest due to it's sherbet-ness, but it just required a bit more patience.

Mmmm. I'm drooling now the way I was while making this. 

Again, the orange sherbet is the thickest layer so it really filled the pan.  

At this point I put it all in the freezer and started investigating how to travel with this still frozen. I forgot to mention Easter was going to be celebrated at my Mom's house 2 hours away. Saturday night I ended up putting the ice cream into a cooler,  putting a cardboard box upside down over them to insulate them, pouring an entire bag of ice on top of and around the cardboard box, then putting dry ice on top of that. The dry ice basically keeps your ice from melting and keeps the air cold. There are several dry ice protocol you'd want to pay attention to if you are going to do this,  but won't bore you with them here. 

I was nervous about the ice cream traveling but we had NO problem at all! It was frozen - not solid but very firm - and when we got to my Mom's we put the cake together and then put it in the freezer to harden before frosting it. Here is where I discovered I should have built the ice cream layers in reverse order so getting them onto the cake would have been easier. But with a friendly pair of hands and a amazing helper, we managed a flipping system to get the layers in the correct order. 

Right here is where I started kinda freaking out - in a good way. I couldn't believe it was all coming together and working out so perfectly. I was really prepared for this to be a total disaster, but as you can see - it's a butte. The scene in our house went a little something like this.

I didn't want to mess around too much with frosting so I decided to go with a simple, light layer of whipped cream. Nothing should distract from the rainbow cone flavor. 

We decorated it with a rainbow of jelly beans just to really get into the theme and as soon as we sang Happy Birthday to Andrew and Mom, we dug in.

The knife smeared some of the layers so it was hard to specifically see all 5 layers, but you sure could taste them and it was still so fun to look at and eat. The fact that you couldn't necessarily distinguish the layers wasn't an issue.  For any one experienced in trying to eat a rainbow cone on a hot sunny Chicago summer day, you know that eventually they all sorta melt together anyway and that is part of the delicious fun.

I want more of it right now. What a treat. 

Whew, thanks for hanging in there and indulging my excessive description and post. Can you tell I'm really excited about this creation? :)


  1. Wow, I would love to have some of that! A masterpiece, a beautiful masterpiece!!! The rainbow on top is adorable.

  2. Clap. Clap. Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap