(Note: this post was originally published on September 29, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Get ready for the most awesome, most unique fall treat. A vegan ice cream cake stuffed with figs, bourbon, and cinnamon. Could anything be better?
I'm indescribably in love with this cake for several reasons. First and most importantly, it's absolutely delicious. Second, it's not too difficult to put together and yet is a total shining star. And third, even though it poses as an indulgent cake, the ingredients are essentially just nuts and fruit. Win, win, win.
This cake is packed with classic fall ingredients: figs, cinnamon, pecans, maple syrup, and even bourbon. But because it's ice cream, it's a really unexpected twist on these flavors. This cake would be perfectly at home for a September deck party, an October harvest party, and even Thanksgiving.
Even though this cake may seem decadent, it's actually loaded with ingredients that are good for the body! It's almost completely just fruit and nuts.
The "crust" of this cake is a protein bar in disguise; just dried figs, almonds, and cinnamon. Have you seen my guide to Homemade Lara Bars? It's the exact same idea. The ice cream filling is actually "nicecream", made with pureed frozen bananas (and dressed up with more figs, cinnamon, and a dash of maple syrup). Roasted pecans on top bring it all together.
Thanks to all those great ingredients, this dessert is surprisingly high in protein. It's vegan, free of refined sugar, and you can make it entirely fruit-sweetend with one minor tweak. Doesn't that just make you want to have another slice??
While nothing about this cake is difficult, it does take a few steps, with freezing time in between. The downside is that you'll need to plan ahead... the upside is that it's entirely make-ahead and hence is great for entertaining! Just whip it out of the freezer when you're ready for dessert, slice it, and enjoy.
My recommendation for how to get this done most efficiently and easily:
- Day 1: Slice and freeze the bananas, make and freeze the crust, simmer and cool the dried figs for the filling
- Day 2: Make the nicecream and assemble the cake
- Day 3: Add the pecans on top, slice, and serve
As you can see in these photos, it's gorgeous to embed some fresh figs inside. Isn't this the most beautiful ice cream cake you've seen?? You'll just place some fresh figs on top of the crust, before adding the nicecream (see the photo below). Pack them in as tightly as you can so they stay in place! Then nestle the nicecream around them, being sure to fill in all the gaps. When you serve the cake, slice it so that you expose the very center of each fig, which is the most beautiful part!
Of course this part is totally optional, but in my opinion it's what makes this cake so special. If you'd rather not deal with it, just omit the whole fresh fig aspect of the recipe and make the crust and nicecream as directed. That's also a good option if you can't find fresh figs.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
You'll see that this recipe calls for bourbon. There are actually three reasons for this: (1) I adore bourbon, (2) you need a flavorful liquid to plump up the dried figs for the nicecream, and (3) adding bourbon to the nicecream keeps it from freezing too hard in the fridge.
I guess item #1 is self-explanatory; bourbon is an absolutely iconic and wonderful fall flavor.
For item #2, boiling the figs in bourbon helps them soften up and become more easily-incorporated into the nicecream. This step actually cooks off most of the alcohol too. If you'd rather not use the bourbon, doing this step in water will still help soften them but won't add any additional flavor. If you go that route, I'd add maybe a teaspoon of vanilla to the cooking water. Or even better, use apple cider!
For item #3, the alcohol actually serves a really important purpose: it depresses the freezing temperature, such that your nicecream won't freeze as hard. This is a good thing! You want your nicecream cake to be creamy and easy to cut, not a solid brick. See my Boozy Nicecream Guide for more thoughts on this. That said, if you don't do alcohol, you can omit the bourbon. Just be forewarned that your nicecream will be harder and you might need to let it sit out for 15 minutes before you can cut the cake.
Phew, sorry for all the rambling. This one is a bit complicated and I had lots of tips and substitutions to share! Please don't let the numerous steps deter you from making this recipe. Nothing about it is difficult, and the reward is so great in the end. Just follow the schedule I outlined above, and make sure to start the process two days in advance. The total hands-on time will only be about an hour to an hour and a half, which is nothing for an elegant-looking, party-worthy dessert.
I hope you'll invite this cake to your fall festivities! It's such a symphony of fall flavors, but in a totally unexpected package. Who knows, maybe Thanksgiving Ice Cream Cake will become a new thing??
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
A show-stopping dessert, this nicecream cake features sweet juicy figs, warming cinnamon, and a dash of (optional) bourbon. It's a perfect dessert for early autumn, since it straddles summer and fall flavors. Best of all, it's entirely make-ahead and uses good-for-the-body ingredients!