Ina Garten's Favorite Store-Bought Shortcut To Jazz Up Chocolate Cake

Although cake is usually the star at birthday parties, you can always make a regular day more special with a cake. While baking a whole cake from scratch can be time consuming, there are plenty of hacks to make a boxed cake taste homemade, like swapping water for milk or adding an extra egg. Alternatively, if you want to skip the baking time and go straight to decorating, you can turn Costco muffins into a show-stopping layer cake.

Of course, the easiest and fastest thing to do is go out and buy a cake from the grocery store, but if you want a way to elevate a store-bought cake, Ina Garten has a tip for that. The best part is that all you need is a carton of vanilla ice cream.

Pairing chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream isn't out of the ordinary, but Garten does more than put a scoop of ice cream next to a slice of cake. Instead, she uses vanilla ice cream to make an easy crème anglaise substitute.

Ina Garten uses melted vanilla ice cream as crème anglaise

In an Instagram video, Garten reminisces about a delicious chocolate cake she ate, and then, she shows her fans how to elevate a basic slice of cake. She explains that vanilla ice cream is essentially crème anglaise that's been frozen, so she melts some vanilla ice cream onto a plate and then gently places a slice of cake on top.

Crème anglaise is a custard sauce that only has a few ingredients: milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. Since the ingredients are nearly identical to ice cream, Garten's trick really comes in handy because crème anglaise can be tricky to make yourself. When making crème anglaise, you need to be mindful of the temperature so the egg yolks don't overcook, so Garten's hack takes all the pressure off and ensures that you don't end up with a curdled custard sauce.

Just be sure to grab a high-quality ice cream so it melts well. We've ranked vanilla ice cream brands from the grocery store, and McConnell's and Graeter's came out on top. With one of these brands, your quick and easy crème anglaise will impress your dinner guests.