This gooey butter cake ice cream has a rich brown butter and cream cheese ice cream base studded with chunks of pound cake. This recipe is modeled after our favorite ice cream from Jeni’s Ice Creams!
Why this Recipe Works
I’m a huge Jeni’s ice creams fan. I’ve visited their store front, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in three different cities (Washington, D.C., Nashville, and Los Angeles). Every single time I have to get the gooey butter cake ice cream flavor. The flavor is rich and the texture is decadent and I knew I needed to come up with my own version of it.
Jeni’s version of ooey gooey butter cake ice cream has a cream cheese ice cream, layered with vanilla cake, and caramel-butterscotch sauce my version is a little different. Every time I have tried this ice cream I could not really distinguish the caramel-butterscotch sauce; it seemed to blend into the ice cream base.
I settled on a cream cheese and brown butter ice cream base to really give the rich flavor I tasted, mimicking the cream cheese and caramel-butterscotch flavored ice cream.
The cake bits in Jeni’s ice cream seemed very dense to me, so I chose to use a pound cake.
- Butter. Salted or unsalted butter work. The butter is browned adding a subtlety nutty toffee flavor to this ice cream.
- Sugar. White, granulated sugar adds sweetness.
- Milk. I used whole milk, but 1% or 2% are fine too.
- Cream. Cream creates a rich base for this ice cream.
- Cream Cheese. Tangy cream cheese mimics the traditional gooey butter cake flavor while also making the ice cream base smooth and decadent, just like Jeni’s ice cream.
- Pound Cake. Pound cake chunks are added to the ice cream giving it the yellow cake flavor traditionally associated with gooey butter cake.
- Egg Yolks. Egg yolks contain lecithin’s which helps bind the fat and water together in this ice cream, while also adding richness.
- Vanilla. Vanilla adds that delicious bakery flavor and enhances the flavor profile.
- Salt. A little salt balances out the sweetness.
How to Make this Recipe
- Brown the butter. Start by browning the butter. Browning the butter toasts the milk solids in the butter, give the ice cream base that rich buttery flavor, while also adding a richer toffee flavor that Jeni’s ice cream gets by adding the butterscotch-caramel. You want your butter to be a deep golden brown color. Pour into a small bowl let cool enough that it’s not boiling hot. If you need additional guidance, see our How to Brown Butter post.
- Beat the egg yolks. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, and beat the yolks together in a bowl using a fork or whisk.
- Heat the cream. Add the milk, cream, and sugar to a saucepan over medium heat until warm.
- Temper the eggs. Tempering your eggs means you’re going to warm them up a little bit before adding them into the ice cream base, this ensures that you don’t end up with chunks of scrambled egg chunks in your ice cream. Add a small amount of the warm cream mixture to the egg yolks and whisk them together quickly. Add little more cream, whisking it in. Once smooth, add the yolk-cream mixture to the sauce pan with the rest of the milk, cream, and sugar. Simmer for 3 minutes, whisking the whole time, until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Emulsify. Pour the cream mixture, brown butter, cream cheese, salt, and vanilla into a blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds, or until completely smooth. Because we have butter in this mixture, we need to fully emulsify the mixture so there aren’t any oily bits floating around. We really want this mixture to be smooth, creamy, and stay all together.
- Chill. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the mixture is cold. It should set up like a thick pudding.
- Add to ice cream maker. Pour the ice cream into the ice cream maker (according to manufacturer’s instructions—each ice cream maker is a little different!) and let that ice cream churn. When it churns a lot of air will get whipped into your custard so instead of being thick and gloopy, it will be light and creamy! I use this ice cream maker love it.
- Add cake. ! If your ice cream maker has lots of room in it you can throw your cut up pound cake in to the ice cream maker right at the end to disperse, but if you have a smaller ice cream maker this might not be an option. In this case, stir them in by hand at the end after you pull the paddle out. OR, you can layer the cake bits in your pan as you pull the ice cream out of the ice cream maker.
- Freeze. Pour into a large container, I usually use a loaf pan, cover, and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.
How to Layer the Cake Chunks in the Ice Cream
If your ice cream maker is too small and you don’t want to stir the cake chunks in by hand, I recommend layering the cake chunks into your ice cream base as your prepare to freeze it.
Decide what kind of container you are freezing your ice cream in. I usually use a loaf pan. Spread a layer of ice cream across the bottom, then sprinkle cake chunks over top of the ice cream. Spread another layer of ice cream over top, and then sprinkle another layer of cake chunks over top of that. I typically do three layers of ice cream and cake.
What are Jeni’s Ice creams?
Jeni’s ice creams are created by Jeni Britton Bauer, and I’ll declare her an ice cream genius. She has store fronts, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, all over the U.S. and some flavors are sold in pints in stores.
Her flavors are unique and rich, and the ice cream is so smooth and decadent. Jeni is famous for adding a little bit of cream cheese to her ice cream bases. That tanginess of the cream cheese balances out the sweetness of the ice cream while also making the ice cream bases super creamy and buttery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Gooey butter cake ice cream has tangy and buttery ice cream base with hints of caramely, toffee flavor and chunks of buttery, pound cake.
Yes, gooey butter cake originates from St. Louise, Missouri. The recipe was created by accident in the 1930s, when a baker made a mistake making coffee cake and added too much butter. Thus, gooey butter cake was born, and has been popular there ever since.
Gooey butter cake is wildly popular because it is the ultimate dessert. It has a chewy, cake batter crust that contrasts the sweet, gooey filling that makes it so addicting.
Gooey butter cake gets it’s name for the gooey, creamy filling that sit on top of the crust.
If you’ve never had gooey butter cake, you are missing out! You take a yellow cake mix and mix it with butter to create a crust and top it with a sweet cream cheese filling. When it’s all baked up you’ve got this super rich, ooey gooey butter cake deliciousness.
If you’re itching to try it head over to my foodie friend Shugary Sweets for a simple gooey butter cake recipe!
- Plan ahead. This ice cream takes some time and planning ahead, especially if you are planning on making it for a specific event. Don’t forget to chill your ice cream freezer ahead of time, account for the time it takes for the ice cream base to chill, and then additional freezing time required for this ice cream recipe.
- Use full fat. There’s really no skimping on this recipe, use full fat cream cheese, milk, etc. for the best results. This ice cream is pure decadence.
- Pound cake short cut. If I’m honest, I always use store bought pound cake for this recipe. It’s my favorite shortcut! If you want to make homemade, here is an amazing pound cake recipe.
How to Store this Recipe
Store this ice cream in the freezer when not using it. Keep it tightly covered to prevent freezer burn. It is best used within a month.
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Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream (A Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Copycat!)
- 1 ½ cups cream
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- ⅔ + ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks beaten
- 8 ounces cream cheese (16 tablespoons or 1 brick)
- ½ cup butter cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups pound cake cut into small cubes (homemade or store bought)
- In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, place butter and let melt. Stirring occasionally brown the butter until the butter has a dark golden color. If you taste it the butter will have a toasted, nutty flavor. Pour into a bowl, set aside, and let cool until it’s not boiling hot. You’ll use the saucepan again in the next step (no need to clean it).
- In a bowl, beat 2 egg yolks, set aside. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, pour milk, cream, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. When milk-cream mixture is hot remove ⅓ cup add it slowly to egg yolks, stirring quickly. This will temper the eggs, cooking them slowly, without scrambling them. Add the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan.Bring to a simmer for three minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Pour the custard (your cream, sugar, egg mixture) into a blender. Add in salt, vanilla, cream cheese, and brown butter. Blend on high for 30 seconds—hold a towel over the lid as you may have a little leakage. This will emulsify the butter with the other ingredients so they won’t separate. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. It will look like a thick pudding when cooled.
- Pour into ice cream freezer and prepare according to manufacturer’s instructions. While ice cream is churning cut up homemade or store bought pound cake into tiny bite size pieces and freeze the cake cubes. This will help prevent the cake from crumbling when mixed into ice cream. When the ice cream is done churning stir in cake pieces. Pour into a large container and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.
Originally published July 17, 2019