"Are you sure you don't want me to pick up a cake at the ice cream store?" I ask my twenty-five-year-old son on the phone. He whines like a three year old. "You try to talk me out of it every year, Mom. I want you to make me an ice cream cake for my birthday. I want a mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. I've told all the guys in the band how great it is. C'mon Mom!"
He's told all his friends. I thought he was over having birthday parties with his friends when he was ten, but apparently not.
In this day and age, it just seems wrong to make a homemade ice cream cake. There are beautifully decorated cakes in the freezer section of the grocery store, not to mention in the local ice cream parlor. I realize that making his ice cream birthday cake is more about reliving his childhood (I've made him ice cream cakes since he was two years old), and I recall baking and freezing a volcano ice cream cake that his friends talked about for years. He was so proud of that cake. (Not of his mom; of the cake.)
"How many friends are coming, Jake?" I ask him, knowing full well that he is going to tell me something like I don't know, Mom. Can you make enough for twenty?
It was easy to make a cake for twenty little freckled faced boys with twenty pairs of dirt-riddled sneakers in the house when he was a kid. It was no problem dealing with the twenty little hands that hide twenty little boogers under the coffee table top instead of using a Kleenex. Twenty little gift bags full of plastic spiders and Jolly Ranchers. And twenty gifts that made Jake so excited that he had to run to the bathroom every fifteen minutes. Ahhh, those were the days.
A cake for twenty nowadays means two cakes in the freezer. This entails my husband taking out all the Lean Cuisines, frozen oat bread, pork chops, and something grey and hairy, and trying to stuff them into the extra fridge in the out building. (You know the extra fridge... It's called the Extra Fridge because it costs an extra thirty bucks a month on the electric bill so he can store two six-packs of grocery store brand diet soda, an empty bottle of mustard, and two half-bottles of ketchup).
We take everything out of the freezer to fit the humungous birthday cakes for Jake. His birthday party is in the evening, so this requires appetizers as well. I pick up ten pounds of Buffalo wings for the band, and another five for the regular folk. My husband goes to Costco and purveys massive amounts of chips and soda. He also comes home with a five CD audio set of John Denver. "It's for Jake." I see through his bald faced lie. "Jake doesn't like John Denver." He smiles and takes the shrink wrap off the CD's. "He doesn't? Well I guess I'll have to listen to them, then. I just hate waste." (Guess he forgot about the Extra Fridge.)
So the cake is ready, the appetizers are in place, the soda is chilling, and there are piles and piles of chips and salsa on the table. The family begins to arrive and mill around while John Denver plays in the background.
Then we hear the tell-tale backfire. We look out the window and watch as the primer-gray serial killer van pulls up. With a little banging and coaxing, the van's side door opens and out tumbles Jake. (The driver door hasn't worked since the Great Wal*Mart Parking Lot Incident of '06.) Then the real show as the van begins to mime the capacity of a clown car; band member after band member emerges with some kind of instrument in hand. The van just doesn't look big enough to hold them all. Yes, Jake is right. There are twenty of them, and they are all heading toward the door. (Except the one who stops by my maple tree and begins to "water" it. He must be the drummer.)
Twenty pairs of dirty Converse sneakers, twenty spiked up, multi-colored hair-dos (or hair-don'ts... depending on how you look at it, I guess...), and twenty outlandish outfits that I think their sisters should be wearing. I have to blink because at that moment I see Jake and his friends as ten-year-olds again. It just happens that these ten year olds eat gobs more and are a lot louder.
"Hey Mrs. M," shouts Jake's lifelong friend, Sam. "Did you make one of your awesome ice cream cakes?"
"No, Sam, I made two."
"Right on," he casually replies as he beelines past me for the ranch dip and the Fritos.
By night's end, the house has transformed into a waste site filled with dip-smeared paper plates, empty chip bags, and enough aluminum soda cans to build a Toyota. There are also smashed chips in the carpet, and droopy Mohawks on these future captains of industry. I also find it amusing to see the boys listening to John Denver with Jake's Dad. Jake actually looks interested in what my husband is saying. I think they actually like John Denver.
The band isn't so bad; they sing and play a punk-reggae-fusion version of Happy Birthday for Jake. And as the party wound down, Jake came over to me and gave me a big hug. "Thanks Mom for making my cake. And thanks for letting the band come, too. You're a great Mom."
It was all worth it until next year.
Ice Cream Cake Recipe
2 boxes of cake mix (any flavor)
2 to 3 containers of Cool Whip
1 gallon of ice cream in a rectangle box (any flavor)
2 to 3 cans of frosting (any flavor)
Make the cakes as directed on the box, use two 9 x 12 pans to bake the cakes. Let the cakes cool. Put one of the cakes on a covered with foil cookie sheet. Open up the ice cream box completely so that you have a brick of ice cream and slice the brick into 6 even slices. On the top of the first cake, lay each ice cream slice on top of the cake, side by side so that it covers the whole top of the cake and pinch each slice into the next so you have a solid layer of ice cream. Next, take a half of a can of frosting and spread it over the ice cream evenly. Try to do the frosting quickly because the ice cream will begin to melt. Next, use one of your Cool Whips and spread half the container on top of the frosting and spread evenly. Now take your second cake, and lay it over the top of the ice cream/frosting/Cool Whip layer. Cover in saran wrap and stick it in the freezer for an hour.
After freezing for an hour take the cake out and completely frost the whole cake. After frosting the cake, put a whole nice thick layer of Cool Whip over the frosting as if the Cool Whip is the frosting. Then put back in the freezer for eight hours.
When you serve, pull cake out of freezer about 15 minutes before slicing.
This cake will serve 12-24 people depending on how you slice the pieces, or how big the band is!