Making Mini Ice Cream Cakes Is Easier Than You Think

While the tiny foods trend may no longer be quite so huge as it was during the pandemic (who's got time these days to make dime-sized pancakes?), there are times when single-serving desserts are more practical than full-sized ones. This is especially true in the case of ice cream cake, as this treat can melt into a sloppy mess if left out of the freezer for too long. With mini ice cream cakes, though, you can simply take out one or two at a time, if that's all you need. As a bonus, it's not too much harder to make them than it is to follow a recipe for a standard ice cream cake.

To make a mini ice cream cake with a cake base, you can start by baking cupcakes, but fill each well (or liner) just partway — maybe only a tablespoon of batter so as to make the cupcakes half-sized. As these will bake quicker than the full-sized kind, check them at about 10 minutes, and don't expect them to take more than 15. Once the cupcakes have cooled, fill the rest of the wells with softened ice cream, then freeze them for a few hours before removing them from the pan and decorating. You can also make mini ice cream cakes by cutting out circles from pre-made cakes or brownies, then placing them in ring molds, small bowls, or jars, and then adding softened ice cream along with optional toppings such as nuts, whipped cream, and cherries.

Mini ice cream cakes need not involve actual cake

Some ice cream cake fans insist that the dessert needs to involve actual cake in order to be worthy of the name, but others take the opposite side of the great ice cream cake debate. In their opinion, it's actually meant to be a cake made of ice cream, not a marriage of ice cream + cake sharing a single pan. If you're on Team Cakeless, it's even easier to make mini ice cream cakes: Simply smash up some cookies to make crumbs, then press them into the bottom of a muffin pan, ring mold, or tiny spring-form pan. Add the semi-melted ice cream, freeze, and decorate as above. For an extra layer of crunch, though, you might want to just fill the mold halfway with softened ice cream, freeze it, then add another layer of crumbs and maybe a second flavor of ice cream on top.

The easiest way to make a mini ice cream cake (besides ordering an ice cream cupcake from Dairy Queen's secret menu) may be to turn it into an itty-bitty ice cream pie. You can buy pre-made graham cracker tart shells and fill them with softened ice cream. Freeze the ice cream, then layer it with sauces, candy chunks, sprinkles, or other embellishments once it hardens up. No need for unmolding these mini ice cream tarts as the little foil pans the shells come in make for perfectly acceptable serving containers.