[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Cake and ice cream ice cream are a classic birthday combo. But a cake made of ice cream?! That's both efficient and delicious. I can't remember how old I was the first time I tried ice cream cake, but I can tell you that it was from Carvel and it was a revelation.

A standard issue Carvel ice cream cake consisted of vanilla and chocolate ice cream layered on top of each other and separated by chocolate cookie crunchies, then decorated with frozen whipped cream/frosting stuff. But really, let's be honest here, it was all about the crunchies.

Oh, how I lived for those crunchies. I couldn't get enough and my crunchie craving was never quite satisfied by just one slice. And when you're trying to practice your best party guest manners, running your spoon along the melted ice cream soaked cardboard cake holder to rescue any stray crunchies isn't much of an option. For those of you who think, "What about Fudgie?!" I'll dolefully admit that I've never had Carvel's more chocolate crunchie intensive Fudgie the Whale cake—my parents weren't enamored of Carvel so my only exposure to the cakes was at birthday parties for friends, and when you're feeding a hoard of hungry kids, just one Fudgie isn't going to cut it.

Now, as a veteran of the office birthday gathering, I've been exposed to the Ben & Jerry's ice cream cake. It's taught me that ice cream cakes don't have to be limited to a black and white world of chocolate and vanilla. You can have an ice cream cake in any flavor. And if you make that cake at home, you can have as many darn crunchies as you want because really, that ice cream is there to hold the crunchie layers together. If you loved ice cream cake but always thought it could be so much more, raise your spoon, then put on your apron and go make the crunchies.

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About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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