Dark chocolate & vanilla layered ice cream cake

by Amy Renee
Dark chocolate & vanilla layered ice cream cake

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for ice cream. Okay, maybe more of an obsession. In fact, I’m pretty sure ice cream played a big part in my adolescent…bigness. And after I made the switch to a healthier lifestyle ice cream was still something I craved horribly and often. I remember buying the “low-fat” and “reduced sugar” versions thinking I was doing myself a favor. Of course now I know those “diet” ice creams aren’t any healthier than the real thing and whatever chemicals they added to them likely just made me eat more of the sinful stuff. But alas, I am vegan now and a whole world of plant-based ice creams has put the smile back on my face without the added extra layer on my thighs. I like the flavor of soy and almond milk, but I think the combination of cashews and bananas is my all time favorite for making vegan ice cream or “nice cream.” Yay! Such a delicious dessert and no stomachache afterward. Bonus!

Ice cream cake is one of my all time favorite desserts. And of course I’m always a fan of dark chocolate in any form.  One of my friends was having a birthday and I wanted to make a cake for him so I started rummaging through my recipes. Nothing looked good. I mean, of course things looked good, but I wanted to make something new and something ridiculously rich and decadent. Hmm. Was I making it for him or for myself? Ha ha ha.

After scrolling through tons of vegan cake recipes online I finally decided that I definitely wanted to make an ice cream cake. Although some prep time is required with the soaking of the cashews, ice cream cakes are generally pretty simple to make. And even though this is by no means a low-calorie treat, it is full of healthy nutrients that the body needs. And hey, dessert always tastes that much better when there’s no guilt after, right? At least that’s the case for me. Like I said, this cake is definitely NOT a “diet” food given the large amount of energy-dense nuts. But you could probably have a pretty decent sized piece for breakfast as long as your somewhat of an active person. This might just be the perfect way to start the day. Woo hoo for left overs!



Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes     Cook Time: 0 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes     Makes: one 9- or 3-inch cake

The ingredients in the left column are amounts for the 9-inch size cake and on the right is for a 3-inch cake. The 9-inch cake easily serves 12 to 16 people, depending on how big you slice it. The 3-inch cake is the perfect size for two people.

9-inch Cake 3-inch Cake
·       1¼ cups almonds ·       1/5 cup almonds
·       1¼ cups walnuts ·       1/5 cup walnuts
·       16 dates ·       3 dates
·       3 tablespoons dark cocoa ·       ½ tablespoon dark cocoa
·       1 teaspoon organic coconut oil ·       ¼ teaspoon organic coconut oil
·       ¼ teaspoon salt ·       Dash salt
·       3-4 bananas, frozen ·       ½-1 banana, frozen
·       ¼ cup organic coconut oil ·       2 teaspoons organic coconut oil
·       2 cups raw cashews, soaked & drained ·       1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked & drained
·       1½ cup dates, soaked ·       ¼ cup dates, soaked
·       ¼ cup organic maple syrup ·       2 teaspoons organic maple syrup
·       1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ·       ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·       ¼ cup raw cacao powder ·       2 teaspoons raw cacao powder
Chocolate Glaze
·       50 grams dark chocolate, chopped ·       9 grams dark chocolate, chopped
·       1 teaspoon organic coconut oil ·       ¼ teaspoon organic coconut oil
·       1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ·       Dash pure vanilla extract
·       Pinch salt ·       Dash of salt
·       Almonds, chopped ·       Almonds, chopped
·       Walnuts, chopped ·       Walnuts, chopped
·       Dark chocolate, chopped ·       Dark chocolate, chopped




Freeze the bananas at least 6 hours before you make the cake. Make sure you peel them first! Soak the cashews for 2 to 4 hours. Don’t soak them any longer or they will turn to mush. The dates should be soaked as well, but they only need to be soaked for about 10 to 15 minutes. If your dates are very soft they might not need to be soaked at all.


  1. Cut a 9-inch or 2.8-inch diameter (slightly smaller to fit perfectly on the bottom of the pan after wrapped) circle in thick paper or cardboard and cover with plastic wrap. Spray the spring-form pan with cooking spray and place the plastic wrapped circle on the bottom. This will allow you to remove the cake from the pan entirely so you can slice it without cutting the pan.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor. Process until the mixture looks crumbly but sticks together when you pinch it. Transfer to the spring-form pan and press onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the filling. Wash the bowl of the processor before moving on to the next step.


  1. Place all the filling ingredients except the cacao powder in the blender or food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides when necessary. Transfer half of the mixture to another bowl, cover and place in the freezer. Add the cacao powder to the remaining filling in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the chocolate filling to the pan and spread evenly until smooth. Sprinkle half of the topping on top and place back into the freezer to set for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Spread the remaining filling on top of the chocolate filling being careful not to disturb the toppings on the first layer. Sprinkle the remaining toppings on top, pressing into the cake slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before adding the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

  1. To make the chocolate glaze simply combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a glass bowl and microwave on medium power for about one minute, stirring frequently until fully melted. Some of the chocolate might still be in chunks, but it will melt as you continue to stir. If it doesn’t, microwave for another 15 seconds or so.
  2. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Set aside for about 5 or 10 minutes until the chocolate has cooled slightly. Using a fork or a spoon drizzle the chocolate on top of the cake in whatever pattern you like. Get creative! Serve immediately or place back in the freezer.


Tips to help make this cake extraordinary

  • This cake is very rich and sweet as I’ve written it here, so be careful not to add a lot of extra sweeteners if you make any modifications.
  • I recommend using high quality, non-dairy, organic fair trade dark chocolate and organic cacao powder if possible.
  • Make sure whatever nuts you use are high quality as well. You can certainly sub any other kind of nut in place of the walnuts and almonds, but I don’t recommend subbing the cashews since they lend the creamy texture to this cake. Don’t use old, browned nuts. Not only have they lost their taste, but when nuts are old (exposed to light, air and warm temperatures for too long) they become rancid and become harmful rather than healthful.
  • Organic coconut oil doesn’t cost much more than conventional. It doesn’t matter if you get refined or unrefined. Refined is, well, refined, but if you don’t want it to add a strong coconutty flavor to your cake than I recommend buying refined. I general use the refined even though I LOVE coconut.
  • Any kind of dates work in this recipe as long as they are fresh, but I highly recommend organic Medjool dates.
  • Vanilla bean can obviously replace the vanilla extract and is delicious. If you use the extract make sure it is in fact pure and not imitation and does not contain any added sugars like high fructose corn syrup.
  • This recipe was designed to fit a 9-inch spring form pan or one of the little 3-inch spring form pans, but if you don’t have one no worries. I made it in a 9-inch square baking pan and it worked fine. Just line the pan with enough saran wrap that you will be able to pull the cake out of the pan after it has completely frozen and transfer it to a serving platter. I transferred mine to a large cutting board and sliced it on the board.
  • Be careful when you cut the cake! First, don’t try cutting the cake if it is frozen solid. Let it thaw for a few minutes. Use a very sharp chef’s knife and dip the knife in warm water between cuts to clean the knife. This will allow you to make clean, straight cuts. Don’t cut yourself!


I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family and I did. After creating this blog post I’m thinking I should treat myself to the smaller one ASAP!

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