By Emily Stimpson Chapman
Emily Stimpson Chapman is the award-winning author of several books, including The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet. Find more recipes on her blog, The Catholic Table.
It’s been a rough week around here. Not “people dying, children starving, hurricanes hitting” rough. Just “deadlines looming, plumbing breaking, house projects overwhelming” rough. Or, more simply put, “stupid first world problems” rough.
Then, of course, I—being the hyper-organized, super-scheduler, over-planner that I am—had to go and make it all the rougher by sweating and fretting about All The Things. And I do mean All The Things: All The Things I have planned; All The Things I don’t have planned. All The Things I need to do. All The Things I might not get the opportunity to do. All The Things that might change. All The Things that might not change.
It’s perfectly insane, and I am aware of this. But it goes with the territory of being me. The same organizing skills that enable me to juggle a dozen different writing projects, plan big, fancy parties, and keep a house looking all pretty like are the same skills that allow me to whip up my very own stress tornado—a whirling vortex of anxiety where I see All The Things forever and ever coming at me.
I’m actually a lot better about avoiding that vortex than I used to be. But better isn’t perfect, so from time to time, I find myself borrowing trouble from tomorrow, only to discover (surprise, surprise) that such borrowing is a very bad idea. God doesn’t give you the grace to bear tomorrow’s troubles; he only gives you the grace for today’s troubles…or sometimes just the moment’s troubles. All attempts to borrow beyond the day inevitably result in just more trouble.
Occasionally, however, they also result in Cashew & Salted Caramel Ice Cream Cake.
Nice segue, right?
In all seriousness, I do not recommend eating the stress tornado away. In the long run, as good as salted caramel ice cream atop a gingersnap crust and slathered with whipped cream, cashews, and an ooey, gooey caramel sauce may taste (and let me tell you, it tastes mighty fine), stress eating all that sweet and salty goodness will only make you more stressed.
That being said, I do recommend making this dessert to help deal with the stress. Why? Because it involves giving gingersnap cookies a massive beatdown with a wooden rolling pin. And that, folks, is stress therapy you can’t buy.
At the start of the week, I wasn’t exactly planning on gingersnap therapy as part of my anxiety vortex exit strategy. Mostly, I was just trying to focus on the moment, make more time for prayer, and do calming things like reading under the lacy pink explosion in my backyard.
But, as it so happens, it was my roommate’s birthday on Monday, and her favorite dessert is ice cream cake. Making her happy by inventing a new recipe was the goal. Beating gingersnaps to a bloody pulp was just an added side benefit.
Another side benefit was how easy this cake was. 20 minutes of prep work. No turning on the Beast in this ridiculously hot May weather. And you make it well in advance of the dinner, so there’s no scurrying to do dessert and cook a meal at the same time.
That’s particularly good news for all my friends who’ve booked their reservations at Emily’s “B&B” for the summer, as I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this one again and again, stress or no stress.
No Bake Cashew & Salted Caramel Ice Cream Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes active; 8-24 hours inactive
- Gingersnap cookies, about 30
- Butter, 3 Tablespoons
- Salted Caramel Ice Cream, 3/4 of a gallon, melted
- Heavy Cream, 3/4 cup
- Powdered Sugar, 1 heaping Tablespoon
- Cashews, roasted and salted, 1.5 cups
From The Pioneer Woman
- Brown Sugar, 1 cup packed
- Half-and-Half, 1/2 cup
- Butter, 4 Tablespoons
- Salt, 1 pinch
- Vanilla, 1 Tablespoon
- Make the caramel sauce first, combining brown sugar, half-and-half, butter, and salt in a small sauce pan. Over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer. Stir continuously for 5-7 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken. Add vanilla and cook (still stirring) for another minute more. Pour into a mason jar and refrigerate until cool.
- Next comes the whipped cream. Beat heavy cream in a stand mixer (or with a hand-held one) until soft peaks form. Added powdered sugar and beat for another minute more. Set aside.
- Now the cake: Start with the crust. Place 30 or so gingersnaps in a food processor and pulse until small crumbs form. Alternately, place those same gingersnaps in a large, sealable, plastic bag. Place that bag in another plastic bag. Then, beat to a pulp with a rolling pin. If it’s been a rough week, I highly recommend this second route.
- Once the beating is done, take out 1/4 cup of the cookie crumbs and set aside. Then, melt 3 Tablespoons of butter and combine with the remaining gingersnap crumbs. Press into a nine inch round springform pan.
- Finally, using a rubber spatula, spread a full half-gallon of ice cream, plus about another half of a half-gallon, over the crust.
- Roughly chop 3/4 cup cashews and scatter on top of the ice cream.
- With a spatula, slather the whipped cream on top of the cashews.
- Top the cake with the remaining 1/4 cup of cookie crumbs and cashews. Cover tightly with foil and freeze for at least 8 hours, preferably 24.
- Before serving, top individual slices with caramel sauce.
- This recipe is so easy that you can substitute out anything you don’t like. Not a gingersnap fan? Try vanilla wafers, graham crackers, or Oreos. Can’t stand cashews? Pecans or peanuts would be great too (unless I’m coming over for dinner, than please, no peanuts). And of course, if you go with Oreos, instead of gingersnaps, for the love of all things good and holy, use mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate sauce. Hmmmm….
- When I served this, it had been in the freezer for only six hours. It wasn’t quite enough. The leftovers yesterday, however, which had been in the freezer for a full 24 hours, were perfect. So, if you can, give yourself the full amount of time.
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Every one of us has to eat. Some of us eat too much food. Or we eat too little. Sometimes we eat without gratitude, without charity, or without respect. But, as award-winning author Emily Stimpson Chapman explains in The Catholic Table, with a sacramental worldview, the supernatural gift of God’s grace can transform and heal us through the food we make, eat, and share.