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Ice-ing on the Cake: A Different Kind of Ice Cream Cupcake

Filled Cupcake
Recently, I was posed with an interesting reader inquiry: "Have you ever made cupcakes using ice cream instead of milk in the recipe?"

Well, no. The thought had never actually occurred. But you can bet that shortly after being asked, I found myself in the freezer aisle of the local grocery.

So what happens when you make cupcakes with ice cream?

First, I chose a cupcake recipe by Amy Sedaris. It's copied below as it appeared in her wonderful book, but "milk" is replaced with "ice cream" in the appropriate spots.



Amy Sedaris's Vanilla Cupcakes Made with Ice Cream
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups slightly melted (still cold) ice cream (this was milk in the original recipe)
Turn oven on to 375 degrees F.


Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until somewhat smooth. Pour in sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs. I like to crack the eggs on the side of the bowl while it is moving, which can be really stupid. I like to take chances. Yes, I have had to throw away my batter because I lost eggshells in the mix. Yes, it was a waste of food and yes, I know how expensive butter is, but what can I say? I'm a daredevil. Mix well. Add: vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, and ice cream. Beat until it looks like it is supposed to and pour into individual baking cups, until they are about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Should produce 24 cupcakes; I get 18 because I'm doing something wrong, although my cupcakes were voted second best in the city by New York Magazine.


Ice cream cupcakes baking

When the cupcakes were baking, they looked just fine--they were rising nicely, and if anything the only thing that clued us in that they were different was a slight glossiness to the texture of the top of the cake.

Looking good...
When they came out of the oven, they still looked good...

Fallen cupcakes
But then something started to happen--they began to slowly collapse, like fallen souffles. Oh no!

When cooled, we took them out of the silicone baking liners, and found that not only were they fallen, but these cakes were seriously dense. They seemed to weigh more than a cupcake should, and had a texture that was more like a scone or cakey cookie than a light and fluffy cupcake.
Fallen cupcake

Luckily, our friend Dan the Baker had just given us a jar of delicious bourbon caramel sauce (what's in it we have no idea, but it is good), and so instead of frosting the cupcakes, we filled each indentation with a generous spoonful. This seemed appropriate in more ways than one--not only did it cleverly disguise the fallen cupcakes, but it tasted a little like an ice cream topping. A nice, thick hot fudge sauce or butterscotch sauce would probably work just as well.

Filled Cupcake
The ice cream cupcakes were pretty good as a baked good, but it was hard to actually think of them as cupcakes, since they had such a different texture and density--it's almost as if they needed their own category, resting somewhere between cookie and cake. Replacing the milk with ice cream definitely does change the character of the finished product (don't ask me why in terms of chemistry, please--I went to art school)--so proceed with caution!


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Reader Comments (24)

Wow that's really interesting! Those do look good though, especially with that carmel sauce, yum!

April 20 | Unregistered CommenterJess

How neat! They look kind of like "thumbprint cupcakes", and to be honest, the dense scone-like texture sounds realy tasty.

oh my GOD. why dont you live closer to me?! i would totally help you not have to eat these all yourself.

April 20 | Unregistered Commentermoonrat

I'm sure the cakes fell because you failed to take into account the increased sugar in the batter as a result of replacing the milk with ice cream. :)

April 20 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Solemnis

higher fat content, more sugar (as Miss Solemnis said), gelatin, flavor extracts, and other additives depending on the brand of ice cream you used... there are so many variables! i wonder what would happen if you used ice cream in an already dense baked good like scones. scary thought...

April 20 | Unregistered Commenterwix

Delicious. They look absolutely amazing and the idea of a softer, more gooey cake? Sounds like a winner of an idea to me!

April 20 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

That was so interesting! Even though it didn't work out, I want to give it a try just for fun!

April 20 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

oh, you should put ice cream in these and add them to the ice cream cupcake roundup in may...

April 20 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

I think you've stumbled upon something! They look Fabulous! A new taste sensation- Cream Cakes!
I love that chewy, cakey texture you described. Thanks for posting this, I have to try it now.

April 20 | Unregistered CommenterShandi Hogg

Interesting experiment - I would have never thought of going down this road.

April 20 | Unregistered Commenterdanamccauley

wix-don't forget all the air churned in to the ice cream! If you melted it down, you would have significantly less moisture than in a similar amount of milk, plus more sugar, fat and perhaps a nice gum like carrageenan. Interesting. I want to play in this sandbox.

April 20 | Unregistered Commenterchou

yummm i want this now.
thank you!

Can we take a moment to talk about how to procure bourbon caramel sauce? Where? How? What do I have to do to Dan the Baker to have him give me some?

Nice! Thanks very much!

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterMay

These look amazing! I can almost taste the dense baked product you describe and OH SO YUMMY! I am a big fan of ice cream with STUFF in it (i.e. cookies and cream, chocolate chip). I wonder what would happen if you used a mint chocolate chip ice cream, or fudge ripple??? Thanks for the yummy post!

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

This was a great save. You would have never known the dent was an accident.

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterEliana

Interesting experiment. Great job documenting it and a great save.

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterStef

these were great. thanks for sharing. rich and yummy. nic

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

loved this post because it hit real close to home for old lyndsay here. i am also an art school graduate and through trial and error learned that many things attribute to an exploding or sunken cupcake in the oven!! i've had too much sugar, too much liquid, etc etc. quick google searches led me to the problems in my literally exploding cupcakes--i watched them rise, then continue to rise, then POOF UP, then explode!!!

--the chemistry of baking. as my husband tells me: "baking is a science" and for me, decorating and developing flavours is the art...!

April 21 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

Instead of upside down cake, it's like an inside out cuppie

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I definitely just tried this out... and it didn't sink? >.> I don't know what happened. oh well, they are quite marvelous :) instant craving when I saw them.

April 21 | Unregistered CommenterSamie

man, the do sound delicious though, I think its the bourbon caramel.
I wonder if you used an all natural, just cream, sugar, vanilla, etc ice cream if they would bake different. this is all assuming the ice cream you used had some chemicals/stabilizers.

regardless, it sounds like it was a fun process!

I just had another thought - chocolate cupcakes with coffee ice cream. or mint chip. YUM!
I wonder if this would work with soy ice cream?

okay. I'm done now. I'll stop commenting.

I made some yesterday afternoon. For some reason mine didn't collapse though--they also look a lot thicker than yours. I put raspberry jam on them like a scone--delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

April 23 | Unregistered Commentercynical-kitty
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