Sundae Surprise Ice Cream Cake Recipe

Everyone loves an ice cream sundae and this new twist on the classic is sure to be a hit with the sundae surprise ice cream cake recipe!

From "The Vintage Baker
October 2018

  • ice cream sundae ice cream cake
    Enjoy this delicious ice cream cake that has all the flavors of a classic ice cream sundae.
    Photo by Alice Gao
  • book cover
    “The Vintage Baker” by Jessie Sheehan brings together Sheehan’s passion for revamping recipes from vintage recipe pamphlets by adding her own twist and her love of baking and researching.
    Cover courtesy Chronicle Books
  • ice cream sundae ice cream cake
  • book cover

Yield: 16 servings

The Vintage Baker (Chronicle Books, 2018) by Jessie Sheehan is a guide to connecting vintage recipes to modern ones. By beginning with a vintage recipe readers can learn the basics of creating staple desserts and then get comfortable before adding their own special twist. Popular and unpopular recipes are included in this book showing the potential to create new and different interpretations of vintage recipes due to the modern techniques and advances of baking techniques and knowledge of ingredients.

The Sundae Surprise in Let's Eat Outdoors (1955) caught my eye right away. But instead of serving classic sundaes in little cups, I used the same classic ice cream sundae components, layered in a spring form pan, starting with a graham cracker crust for texture. I topped it all with toasted walnuts and for a final touch I tossed on a few fluorescent red maraschino cherries: the perfect 1950s garnish. Be forewarned — you need to freeze each ice cream layer for an hour before adding the next, so this is a good one to make when you have time on your hands.


graham cracker crust

  • 2 cups [240 g] graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 Tbsp [75 g] packed light brown sugar
  • Rounded 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup [110 g] unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 pints [1.4 L] vanilla ice cream (or your choice)
  • 2 cups [480 ml] Hot Fudge Sauce (recipe follows) or store bought hot fudge
  • 1 cup [240 ml] Salty
  • Caramel (recipe follows) or store bought caramel

whipped cream

  • 1 cup [240 ml] heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

 for decorating

  • 1/2 cup [60 g] walnuts, toasted,
  • Maraschino cherries


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit [180 degrees Celsius]. Grease the bottom of a 9-in-by-3-in [23-cm-by-7.5-cm] springform pan with nonstick cooking spray or softened butter and line with parchment paper.

For the crust

  1. Combine the cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processer fitted with the metal blade and process until finely ground.
  2. Add the butter and vanilla and continue to process until combined.
  3. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Bake the crust for 6 to 8 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until lightly browned and fragrant.
  5. Let the crust cool to room temperature.
  6. Place 1 pint [0.5 L] of ice cream in the microwave on high power for 20 seconds, or soften it on the counter until it scoops easily but isn’t melted.
  7. Spread the ice cream over the graham cracker crust, cover the ice cream with a piece of plastic wrap, and use your hands to press it down into a flat, even layer.
  8. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
  9. Remove the cake from the freezer, and, using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread 1 cup [240 ml] of the hot fudge sauce over the ice cream.
  10. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes.
  11. Continue layering with another layer of ice cream, the caramel, a final layer of ice cream, and a final layer of fudge, returning the cake to the freezer for about an hour after applying each ice cream layer, and 30 minutes after applying the sauces.

For the whipped cream

  1. Place the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium to medium-high speed until the cream begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue whisking until soft peaks form.
  3. Spread the whipped cream over the top layer of fudge, sprinkle with walnuts and cherries, and freeze overnight, lightly wrapped in plastic wrap. The cake can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 days before serving.
  4. When ready to serve, remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan, using a thin spatula or paring knife to release the bottom, if necessary, and peeling off the parchment paper if it has stuck to the bottom of the cake. Let sit for 20 minutes to soften slightly.
  5. To serve, slice with a large serrated knife dipped in very hot water. The cake will keep, tightly wrapped, in the freezer for up to 1 week.

 More from The Vintage Baker:

Reprinted from The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018.

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