GOOEY BUTTER CAKE ICE CREAM! Okay, I'm about to go off here. This stuff is AMAZING! Brown butter and cream cheese ice cream with chunks of pound cake init. It's a copycat recipe I made after trying (and obsessing) over the flavor at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Don't know what Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream is? Immabout to tell you...
What’s so special about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
I first tried Jeni’s Splendid ice cream last summer when I was out in Washington, D.C. for a friend’s wedding. My mom and went in late one night and after sampling a couple of flavors we knew this was a magical place. The flavors were spot on and the ice cream was divine, truly artisanal ice cream! I settled on Gooey Butter Cake and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. But something about that Gooey butter cake just stuck with me, I NEEDED to make it! I tried the Gooey butter cake flavor again at Jeni’s Ice Creams in Nashville and it was amazing! I was a woman on a mission. I had to come up with my own copycat version of Jeni’s Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream.
What is gooey butter cake?
If you’ve never had gooey butter cake, you are missing out! This dessert is a St. Louis classic! 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!
What’s in the Gooey Butter Cake ice cream?
Jeni’s version of Gooey Butter Cake ice cream has a cream cheese ice cream, layered with vanilla cake, and caramel-butterscotch sauce.
Now my version is a little different. Now the two times I had it I could not really distinguish the caramel-butterscotch sauce, it seemed to blend into the ice cream. I made to cream cheese and brown butter ice cream base to really give that rich flavor that 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.
How Do you make Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream?
1) Brown that butter
First you’ll start by browning some butter, browning butter is super easy, check out our How to Brown Butter post for all the tips and info!
The brown butter is going to 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, but this is BETTER, I promise! You want your butter to be this deep golden brown color.
Then you’ll add your milk, cream, and sugar to a saucepan and heat until warm. You’ll temper the egg yolk into the mixture—technically because this recipe has eggs in it this is a custard! The eggs make this ice cream (or custard if you want to be technically correct) extra rich!
2) Emulsify, Emulsify, Emulsify
In case this ice cream wasn’t rich enough, you’ll pour your custard into blender and add in your brown butter and your cream cheese. Then blend it up until completely smooth! This is called emulsifying! Because we have butter in this mixture, we don’t want it to separate and have oily bits floating around. We really want this mixture to be smooth, creamy, and stay all together!
The image above doesn't coordinate with the numbered steps but shows: 1) the ice cream base before it's churned; 2) the ice cream being churned in the ice cream maker; 3) transferring the ice cream to a pan to freeze in; 4) the ice cream frozen and topped with cake
3) Chill your ice cream base before churning
Before you can put your mixture into the ice cream maker you need to chill it down completely. Once this is cool, you’ll see that the texture is like a pudding or even a flan.
4) Ice Cream Maker Time
Then you’ll put it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let that baby 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!
Then, stir in your cake bits and then freeze that baby up! I know it’s tempting to just eat the ice cream right out of the ice cream maker but have patience! Okay, just one little taste… But THEN put it in the freezer to freeze until hard. I promise its so much better when really frozen.
What if my ice cream maker is too small to mix in the cake chunks?
No problem! 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.
So, if you have a smaller ice cream maker, you can 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. Ex: If you’re putting your ice cream in a loaf pan before freezing it, do a layer of ice cream, sprinkles chunks of cake, another layer of ice cream, more chunks of cake, and so on!
Do I need to make the pound cake from scratch?
You can use either homemade or store bought! I actually used store bought pound cake for this recipe, but if you’re feeling extra try making some homemade pound cake for this recipe! Try out my foodie friend, Savory Experiment’s pound cake recipe.
Love ice cream but don't have an ice cream maker? Try these NO CHURN recipes!
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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.
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Originally published July 17, 2019