Recipe Contest Entry: Nicole Axworthy’s Brownie Blizzard Ice Cream Cake

All images in this post are © Nicole Axworthy

Nicole Axworthy celebrates all things “vegan and sweet” on her site A Dash of Compassion and her entry for the YumUniverse 1st Birthday Recipe Contest did not disappoint. If it were only up to my sweetheart, Mike, she’d be getting the dehydrator—he is in love with this cake. And it deserves the adoration. The recipe is involved, but totally doable and worth every bit of time and effort—the reward is kinda mind-blowingly good.

Nicole says:
I know the recipe instructions below look like they could fill a 100-page handbook, but trust me when I tell you it’s not that bad…and it’s totally worth it. Just think about how proud you’ll be when you can pull off a healthy, whole-foods-based ice cream cake that looks like it came from Dairy Queen. Those dairy- and sugar-loaded DQ cakes were once a childhood favourite of mine, but the thought of eating one now just turns my stomach. Lucky for us, this cake is made with natural, raw and vegan ingredients, like cashews, cacao and coconut, which is much more appealing.

Are you ready for the ride? Here we go…
Layer 1—dense, chocolatey, brownie cake base
Layer 2—smooth, light vanilla soft serve
Layer 3—creamy macadamia nut caramel
Layer 4—almond and chocolate cookie crumbs
Layer 5—more vanilla soft serve, but with thick brownie chunks
Layer 6—topped with a smooth chocolate ganache and more brownie chunks

*Make sure all ingredients are gluten-free if you have a sensitivity.


For the base and brownies:
1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups chopped dates (approx. 5 oz)
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a food processor, process the almonds and walnuts to a coarse meal.

2. Add the dates, cacao, maple syrup and vanilla and continue to process until well combined. The mixture should be thick and sticky.

3. Press about half of the mixture onto the bottom of a 6-inch springform pan to make a 1/4- to 1/2-inch base (this will be the base for the cake) and the remaining mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (this will be the brownies). Set aside both pans.


For the brownie frosting:
1/4 cup coconut butter, softened
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp cacao powder
pinch of sea salt

1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

2. Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the frosting on the top of the brownies in the loaf pan. Place the pan in the freezer to set, about 30 minutes. When ready, cut the brownies into small, 1/2-inch chunks and store them in the freezer until ready to use.


For the vanilla soft serve:
2 cups cashews, soaked at least 2 hours or overnight
1 cup almond milk
6 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1. In a high-speed blender, puree the cashews, almond milk, agave nectar and vanilla until smooth.

2. Add the coconut oil and blend until well combined and smooth.

3. Pour half of the mixture on top of the cake base in the 6-inch springform pan. Place in the freezer to set. Pour the remaining mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use (this will be used on the top half of the cake).


For the cookie crumbs:
1/2 cup almonds, ground
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients until small crumbs are formed.

2. Spread the crumbs on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 105 degrees for about one hour, or until the crumbs are dry to the touch. Store the crumbs in a sealed container in the freezer until ready to use.


For the caramel:
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

1. In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour the mixture into a small bowl with a lid and set aside until ready to use.

To assemble:
So far you should have the base topped with a layer of vanilla soft serve. Next, pour the caramel over top of the vanilla soft serve and smooth it out using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Crumble the cookie crumbs evenly on top of the caramel. Next, pour the remaining half of the vanilla soft serve on top of the cookie crumbs and add the brownie chunks, carefully pressing them down into the vanilla soft serve. You will likely not need all the brownie chunks, so you can use the leftovers to decorate the top of the cake. Smooth out the top as much as you can and place in the freezer for at least an hour to set. When ready, frost with chocolate ganache (recipe below).

For the chocolate ganache:
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
2 tbsp cacao powder, sifted

1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

2. Remove the cake from the freezer and let sit for about 10 minutes (if you don’t, your frosting will harden as soon as it touches the cake). Using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake and place the remaining brownie chunks (if you have any) on top of the cake, as desired. Place the cake back in the freezer for about 10 minutes to allow the ganache to set. Serve with a smile and dig in!


Learn more about Nicole:

A Dash of Compassion



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  1. Beth

    Oh. My. God. What was the time commitment here? Whatever it is, I will not be dissuaded. I’m gonna make myself a birthday cake!

  2. Penny

    My daughter-in-law made this delicious cake for my son’s birthday. She was a little intimidated by all of the steps, but she wanted something really special. And this cake was. The taste is amazing! Everyone was impressed…even my daughter who is a chef and committed carnivore. Thank you for all of the effort put in to this great recipe. It has quickly become a family favorite.

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