How to Thaw an Ice Cream Cake (and How Long It Takes)

Ice cream cakes are always a huge hit at a party, with children and adults alike. They are a guaranteed crowd pleaser at any event, but you need to ensure you allow enough time to thaw the ice cream cake to avoid any disappointed guests or cake-cutting catastrophes.

The length of time it takes to thaw an ice cream cake will depend on the method you choose. The best way to thaw an ice cream cake is in the refrigerator, as this allows the cake to defrost at a consistent chilled temperature. Thawing an ice cream cake in the refrigerator will take between 45 minutes to an hour. If you don’t have enough time to thaw it in the refrigerator, you can set it on your countertop instead. An ice cream cake will only take between 15 and 20 minutes to thaw using this method, depending on the temperature in the room.

Why Thaw an Ice Cream Cake?

Thawing an Ice Cream Cake

If you have never experienced the deliciousness of an ice cream cake at a party before then, you have been missing out! You are probably also going to be unsure of what the protocol is when it comes to serving an ice cream cake if you have never done so before. It might even surprise you to discover that you need to thaw an ice cream cake before it is served since most people will happily eat ice cream from a tub right out of the freezer without taking the time to thaw it.

However, since ice cream cakes are typically large and dense, they become extremely brittle when stored in the freezer. This is especially the case if it has been in the freezer for some time. If you don’t thaw an ice cream cake before you serve it then you are going to have trouble cutting through it to present individual slices to your guests.

The last thing you need at a party is an awkward moment where you have to make guests wait for their dessert because you didn’t prepare it properly. This is why it is important to plan ahead and allow the appropriate amount of time to thaw an ice cream cake.

Do You Need to Thaw an Ice Cream Cake?

The answer to this depends on how you have stored the cake and whether it is homemade or pre-bought. If you have just collected your ice cream cake from the store and you plan to serve it immediately, then it won’t need to be thawed. If you are going to serve it within the next hour, you should assess the ice cream cake and see what level of frozen it is currently in.

It may have thawed on your journey home, in which case you could put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to an hour to help it firm up and prevent it from turning into a gooey mess. However, if it is still pretty solid, then keeping it in the refrigerator until you plan to serve it will be a better idea.

The best way to test this is by using a small wooden toothpick or cocktail stick. Insert the stick into the middle of the ice cream cake and feel the resistance. If the toothpick slides in easily and smoothly, then the cake is thawed enough to serve right away, or you can temporarily keep it in the freezer if you want to ensure it doesn’t become too thawed. If it requires force to push the cocktail stick into the cake, then it is still frozen solid and needs to be thawed in the refrigerator for up to an hour before it is served.

Methods for Thawing an Ice Cream Cake

There are two ways to thaw an ice cream cake. The most reliable way is using the refrigerator, but this takes additional time. The alternative way is to let the ice cream cake thaw at room temperature, which is a quicker but more risky method.

Refrigerator thawing

If you have allowed enough time to defrost your ice cream cake in the refrigerator, then this is the best method to use. Since a refrigerator is chilled at a controlled cool temperature, it allows the ice cream cake to thaw more gradually. This will ensure that the entire cake is evenly thawed.

The cool temperature of a refrigerator also gives you more leniency because you won’t need to worry that it will thaw suddenly and result in a plate of melted liquid ice cream cake if you get caught talking at the party. Thawing an ice cream cake in the refrigerator can take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the size of the cake. Larger cakes will take longer to thaw, while smaller cakes can thaw more quickly.

To thaw an ice cream cake in the refrigerator, you should remove any outer packaging, such as a cardboard box, but leave any plastic wrapping on the cake itself. Clear a space in your refrigerator and set the cake on a shelf, with a few inches of ventilation room around it. Set your timer for 40 minutes, and then use a toothpick to check the consistency of the cake. If it is still too hard, put it back in the refrigerator and check on it at five-minute intervals until it is ready to serve.

Room temperature thawing

Thawing in room temperature

If you don’t have enough time to thaw an ice cream cake in the refrigerator, you can set it on the kitchen countertop instead and cut the thawing time in half. Generally, an ice cream cake will take around 20 minutes to thaw at room temperature, but since it defrosts more quickly, you will need to check on it every few minutes to ensure it doesn’t begin to melt.

The rapid rate of thawing can mean that the outside of the cake is soft while the inside is still hard, especially on a hot day. If you are thawing your ice cream cake in a warm environment, then take measures to prevent the cake from melting, such as setting it in a shaded spot or close to an air conditioning unit.

Tips for Thawing Ice Cream Cakes

Use a hot knife

If you find that your ice cream cake is still a little resistant to being sliced up, then an easy trick is to use a hot metal knife. Run hot water over the knife before you attempt your cut, and you will find that the knife slides through the ice cream cake much more easily.

Use a timer

It’s easy to lose track of time, especially when you are hosting a party and get caught up talking to guests or preparing food. Unfortunately, if you forget about your ice cream cake and leave it thawing for too long, then you can end up with a messy puddle of melted ice cream or a cake that is too soft that nobody wants to eat.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, set a personal timer that will alert you when a certain amount of time has passed so that you never forget to keep tabs on the thawing ice cream cake.

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