Summertime is in full swing, and that means it’s time to celebrate all things ice cream. Sure, we love it in a cone, but with simple plastic sand castle molds you can turn it into architecture!
Sand castle molds can be found during summer months in the seasonal aisle at most discount stores, or you can order them online. Large molds may be used for other projects, but smaller molds (2-3 cup capacity) are recommended for this version that sits atop a cake. Most any ice cream flavor may be used, so it’s easy to be creative!
For the ice cream sculptures:
1/2 to 1 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
New (unused) small plastic sand castle molds, washed and wiped dry
Large baking sheet
For the cake:
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Chocolate whipped cream
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Step 1: Make the Ice Cream Sculptures
Let the ice cream soften for 20 minutes at room temperature, then stir smooth. The consistency should be thick like a milkshake. Place the sand castle molds on a baking sheet. If molds are uneven and wobble, use crumpled aluminum foil pieces to steady and support them. Fill molds with ice cream half way, then firmly tap the bottoms of the molds on a work surface to release air bubbles and fill in gaps. Spoon in more ice cream until molds are full; gently tap again to settle.
Place molds on a baking sheet and transfer to freezer. Freeze 5 hours or overnight (preferred). To unmold, dip the bottoms of the molds into hot water for 5 seconds. Ice cream should release easily with one firm rap on a work surface. Transfer sculptures to the freezer while you make the cake and frosting.
Step 2: Bake the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Spray the pan with a flour-based baking spray, or line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, and then grease the paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat until combined. The batter should be pale yellow.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the mixer bowl in three batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Pour batter into the pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes.
Let the cake cool slightly in the pan. Turn out onto a cake board or serving platter and level with a large serrated knife. Trim away a 1-2 inch piece of cake on each short side.
To make the frosting, whip heavy cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed. When mixture starts to thicken, gradually add granulated sugar and cocoa. Whip until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 3: Assemble the Sand Castle
Place the graham cracker crumbs in a large baking dish with a lip. Cover cake with the whipped chocolate frosting, then press the crumbs into the sides of the cake. This is easiest done by holding the cake over the pan of crumbs and allowing the excess to fall back into the pan. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the cake.
Remove ice cream sculptures from the freezer and roll in the graham cracker crumbs.
Arrange the ice cream sculptures on top of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining crumbs.
Decorate with flag picks, candy seashells and sugar pearls. Keep frozen.