Where Bad Cake Finds Redemption

Chocolate Ice Cream, Mix-Ins

I was wrestling with coming up with an agave-sweetened chocolate cake that was delicate yet oh-so luscious, and tasted so insanely chocolaty, almost over-the-top, that no one would be missing a dang thing. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time—or success, and after re-washing my cake pan and mixer bowl one too many times, I gave up for good.

(And no requests for the recipe in the future, unless you have a few minutes to spare to come over and do some dishes.)

It was sad, because the last cake I whipped up was really moist and extra delicious and I probably was this close to nailing it. I swear, I was ripping of pieces right and left and stuffing them in my face. But it was also about 1/2-inch high. And since I recently shared a rather flat cake with you, I decided to dump it.

Ok, that’s not quite true.

Seeing as I can’t throw anything away, I broke it into shards and stowed them in the freezer, seemingly away from my greedy clutches. (…actually, those frozen bits were pretty good snacks…)

Chocolate Ice Cream

Well here I am, a few weeks later. I had a really good, but extra-large, batch of hot chocolate mix leftover that was begging to be used for something else, so I turned it into ice cream by making a custard with 1 cup cream, 3 yolks, and a generous 1/2 cup sugar then straining that into the chocolate mix, adding a dash of both vanilla and chocolate extracts.

See how resourceful I can be?

Once churned, out came the ice cream and I folded crumbly chunks of the cake into the soft custard. And now it’s resting in the freezer for dessert tomorrow night. (Ribs and peanut slaw, fyi…)

Now let’s see if it stays there that long.

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  • March 28, 2008 9:57am

    ARGH. Hot chocolate cake a la mode ice cream? Must. Have. Now.

  • March 28, 2008 10:44am

    Darn, so sorry to hear the agave sweetened cake didn’t work out. I’m just about to try agave in bread to help the yeast raise a bit more this weekend.

  • March 28, 2008 11:14am

    Too bad about the agave sweetened cake … but the ice cream with chunks of it inside looks like a killer one! (I’m sure you did but: have you tried to ask Heidi of 101cookbooks for help? She uses a lot of agave in her recipes)

  • March 28, 2008 11:22am

    I find it endlessly reassuring that someone with so much experience of sweets can also come up short when predicting what can be done with them. Your darned ice cream looks good, too.

    So, like if you made about 4 of those and layered them up with ice cream and shards of toffee between, that would be terrible?

  • March 28, 2008 11:49am

    This is such a great tip, David. I still haven’t mastered the Pave cake (in fact, had another sad though salvageable experience) but I do appreciate this tip for the scraps!!

  • March 28, 2008 11:56am

    Very inspiring, David.

  • March 28, 2008 2:28pm

    OOH! I’ve made Hot Cocoa Mix ice cream too!!! I love it. I turned it into a little nostalgia offering by throwing in some small white marshmallows and peppermint candy pieces the second time I made it.

  • March 28, 2008 3:38pm

    And it looks low in calories too!

  • March 28, 2008 3:58pm

    You are evil incarnate. That looks so damn good I want to… to…

    Ugh. Must go get crappy substitute ice cream now.

  • March 28, 2008 4:16pm

    Jeezus, that doesn’t sound bad at all! SO resourceful David. Nicely done.

  • oliverde
    March 28, 2008 7:04pm


  • March 28, 2008 8:56pm

    the blending of colors is really delicate. Don’t you think some green would be nice with it (pistachios for example) ?

  • March 28, 2008 8:57pm

    (actually, that’s funny because for the taste, i think there’s no need of pistachios here. but iwould be delighted by the colors :D)

  • March 29, 2008 12:46am


    I’m starting to believe you post these images just to make my life that much harder. How can I NOT accidentally ruin a cake now?

  • Danielle
    March 29, 2008 1:40am

    Reminds me of a similar _success_ many moons ago. Using a recipe that included liqueur for a cake…while mixing the ingredients my young mind said, “if a little alcohol is good a lot will be fantastic!” (laugh) The ending result being parts of a cake falling out of the pan and the savior being a tasty frozen treat when mixed with ice cream. (smile)

  • Terrie
    March 29, 2008 1:48am

    …Waving my hand furiously!!! I have a few spare minutes to come over and do dishes David! (It would involve a 10 hour plane ride too but, who’s counting). ;-)

  • March 29, 2008 7:30am

    I imagine with your talent you could redeem just about anything! How many times do you give a recipe a go, before you say enough? What a great lesson in persistence while eating well no less.

  • March 29, 2008 8:52am

    hi Kim: That’s a good question!

    In this instance, I made the cake 3 times and although I could’ve gotten it if I tried a few other variations, I was pressed for time. And since it was for a one-time demonstration, I shelved it. But I do want to revisit this one, since it did taste wonderful, and hope to put the recipe on the site when I do.

    In general, if I have an idea and I don’t get it reasonably close after the third try, I reconsider if it’s going to work. I’ve had a few ideas that sounded good in my brain, but once I tried them, they didn’t work all that well.

    If the recipe is for a book, I generally make it at least 5 times here at home. Then I send the recipe to a friend who tests it for me, then sends photos. When I lived in San Francisco, my tester pals lived nearby, but here, it’s too difficult to fly people over so I rely on their notes and photos.

    If they raise issues, then I’ll re-make the recipe again to make changes.

    The hardest part, if you can believe it, is dealing with the leftovers. Having 3 cakes lying around is dangerous! Luckily the guys at my local market have a pretty good appetite, as do the fish boys, who got special mention in my ice cream book (page 92) for their ability to consume so much ice cream.

  • March 29, 2008 12:47pm

    three words


    i might drop by tomorrow to do your dishes

  • Mike
    March 29, 2008 2:38pm

    David, about how much cake did you put into the ice cream? I’m definitely keeping this idea in mind whenever I get around to buying an ice cream maker (or inherit my grandparents’ old hand-cranking one).

  • Casvelyn
    March 29, 2008 2:51pm

    Peanut slaw? How do you make peanut slaw? It sounds amazing!

  • Mireille
    March 29, 2008 6:30pm

    Hmmm….”lava” cake. And yes, it’s chocolate.

  • March 30, 2008 3:18am

    I hope this naughty cake never finds redemption. I only wish my good cakes behaved this poorly.

  • March 30, 2008 9:41am

    Well, there you go, giving me another recipe I can’t make. I have the ice cream maker, but the freezer bowl doesn’t fit into my two feet high Parisian fridge and I don’t have an oven so I couldn’t even mess up a cake if I tried. I’m just stuck with the chocolate chaud part. Ho hum. Any leftovers? Bises, Ms. Glaze

  • March 30, 2008 10:21am

    Mike: It was about 2 cups of pieces, minus the few that I ate while the ice cream was churning…

    Natalie: I love agave, but you can’t simply substitute it in certain recipes for sugar. I made Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Ice Cream that turned out to be delicious, if you’re looking for a good recipe with that agave.

  • March 30, 2008 11:41am

    You’re a true culinary professional, you don’t waste a thing! ;-)

  • Phyllis
    March 30, 2008 3:14pm

    Mama want. Now.

  • March 30, 2008 3:46pm

    This looks so good! How do you make peanut slaw?

  • March 30, 2008 8:50pm

    I do this sort of thing all the time, because I have so many flops and flubs, especially when trying something new. If you do it, David, it must be OK, right?

  • March 31, 2008 10:00am

    Hey David — Kudos for all your trying. If I might make a suggestion or two, try substituting a few tablespoons of sifted coconut flour for some of the flour. It helps absorb the agave to give you a more cakey cake. Also, sifted whole wheat pastry flour works really well with agave. Sifting all the dry ingredients helps. Finally, I find that when I bake cakes or cupcakes with agave, I have to get as much lift as possible, so I separate the eggs (if it’s not a vegan recipe) and really whip up the whites. It makes a big difference. Good luck and thanks for always posting such great stuff!

  • March 31, 2008 1:53pm

    Disastrous as it may have been, I’m imagining the contents of your photos atop some vanilla ice cream smothered in chocolate syrup and loving it.

  • Lauren
    March 31, 2008 2:34pm

    I’m totally enjoying your blog and I’m glad I read this post when I did. I had a pan of brownies that didn’t set right so I whipped up a batch of creme fraiche ice cream and dropped them in by spoonfuls towards the end of the mixing. Yum!