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Published August 14, 2012, 11:30 PM

Doeden: Make your party perfect with this layered ice cream cake

Last summer when I was spending time with my young granddaughter, the ice cream truck rolled down the street. We could hear the lilting, clearly recognizable music coming from the truck when it was a block or two away. Suddenly, I was a child again.

Last summer when I was spending time with my young granddaughter, the ice cream truck rolled down the street. We could hear the lilting, clearly recognizable music coming from the truck when it was a block or two away. Suddenly, I was a child again.

We ran into the house for some money, in a panic the truck would pass by before we got back outside. And then we giggled with excitement as that feeling of great relief washed through us when we could hear the music getting closer.

Sitting cross-legged on the grass near the curb, we waited and thought about what cold sweet treat we might choose.

For me, ice cream elicits treasured memories of slurping root beer floats on the back steps with my mom, and scraping out the last of the luxurious hot fudge sticking to the sides of a sundae glass at Bridgeman’s on one of my excursions with my dad. Maybe that’s why the child within me peeks out every time I eat ice cream.

When my favorite guy recently celebrated one of those significant birthdays that end with a zero, I thought it a good time to turn adults into children by serving an ice cream cake.

The week of his birthday was a succession of sweltering hot and humid days. To avoid turning on the oven, I prepared a no-bake crust to hold the ice cream. It seems an unlikely combination of ingredients, but ground granola crumbs mixed up with a hit of honey, some cocoa powder and milk creates glorious texture and flavor. And it’s not just for ice cream cakes. This crumbly mix can be used anytime you need a graham cracker or cookie crust. It never needs baking.

I’ve discovered that putting the ice cream in the refrigerator while I mix up the granola crust gives it a chance to soften. I like to mash it around in a bowl and stir it until it becomes the texture of soft-serve ice cream. At that point, it’s easy to stir some mini-morsels of semisweet chocolate into the smooth ice cream. I used coconut ice cream for the birthday cake, but vanilla or any light-colored ice cream in your favorite flavor will work fine.

After adding another layer of the crunchy granola crumbs to the cake, I topped it with mocha almond fudge ice cream. Here again you could choose your own favorite flavor in a darker color than the first layer. How about stirring chopped peanut butter cups into chocolate ice cream?

About 10 minutes before serving the cake, take it out of the freezer to give it a chance to soften slightly. I find that a bench scraper or dough scraper is a great tool for cutting frozen cakes. If you don’t have one, run the blade of a large sharp knife through some warm water before slicing the cake. The knife will slide through much more easily.

Whether you’ve got a birthday coming up in your family or not, add this cake recipe to your list of things to do before summer comes to an end. And take time to be a child again.

Sue Doeden is a food writer and photographer from Bemidji, Minn., and a former Fargo resident. Her columns are published in 10 Forum Communications newspapers.

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