Bite size ice cream cakes + whipped cream + sprinkles = JOY!

Nothing screams "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" quite like an ice cream cake!

Middle Name Silly's (the boyfriend!) birthday was last month, and as an avid devotee to the wondrous marriage of smooth ice cream and fluffy cake, there was little trouble deciding what to make for him!

The trouble started when it came time to choose the flavors.

I knew I wanted to have a chocolate cake base, but what flavor of ice cream to pair with it??

Cookies and cream, chocolate fudge, vanilla bean, mint chocolate chip, strawberry, coffee...

WAY too many options!!

After much deliberation, I settled on strawberry with a hot fudge filling.

Which flavors would you choose? ♥

Ice Cream Cupcakes (recipe adapted from Joy the Baker) -- makes 24 + 1 8-inch round cake (or 48 ice cream cupcakes baked in two batches)

1 boxed cake mix prepared by instructions... OR a prepared cake batter of your liking (No, I'm not ashamed about using a cake mix. It's a handy shortcut in a pinch - not cheating!)
1 carton of ice cream (I used almost all of a 1.75 qt carton of strawberry!) 
A jar of hot fudge sauce (optional, but really added that special touch to the cupcakes!)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two regular-sized cupcake pans liberally with cooking spray. Fill each cavity with one tablespoon of prepared cake batter (this will yield cupcake bottoms approx. 1/2-inch tall) and tap each pan lightly on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until cupcakes test clean with a toothpick with only a few crumbs. (At this point, you may choose to bake two more pans of cupcakes, or pour the rest of the batter in an 8-inch round pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes.) Let cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the cupcakes to loosen them. Then, keeping the cupcakes in the pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours - preferably overnight.
When ready to assemble the ice cream cupcakes, let the ice cream soften until it is the consistency of frozen yogurt - about 20-30 minutes. While the ice cream is softening, remove the cupcakes from the freezer and use a serrated knife to slice off any uneven domes on top of the cupcakes. Then, if desired, warm hot fudge sauce in the microwave until easily spoonable, and spread about a teaspoon's worth of fudge onto the flattened top of each cupcake. Return cupcakes to the freezer for about 5 minutes to set up the fudge topping. Working quickly, spoon softened ice cream on top of the cupcakes and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. When all of the cupcakes have been topped with ice cream, recover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, run a warm knife around the edges of the cupcake and lift out! Top with whipped cream, colored sprinkles or jimmies, more hot fudge or other ice cream topping, or chocolate ganache and serve immediately! I'll guarantee these tasty morsels won't last long! ♥

Whipped cream splendor! But wait - something's missing... we're talkin'!

Rachel's Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Cake Mix:
♥ Whisk the HECK out of the dry mix before adding the wet ingredients! This breaks up clumps and helps form a smoother batter.
♥ Make it your own! Who says you have to stick to the normal added ingredient list of water, oil, and eggs? Substitute applesauce for the oil for a super-moist cake, add a little extra vanilla or other extract, dissolve a bit of instant coffee or espresso in the water to enhance the chocolate flavor in a chocolate cake, add the zest of a lemon or orange for a bright, tangy flavor, or - my personal favorite - substitute a 1/4 cup of liquor (try Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, or Grand Marnier!) for a 1/4 cup of the water! 


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