Few things in life are as universally adored as ice cream, and in my experience, few desserts receive more raves than ice cream pie. It always amuses me that as soon as I bring out this simple, kid-oriented dessert for company, an enthusiastic cheer erupts from even the most reserved adult guests.
Ice cream pie is ideally suited to casual summer entertaining. It must be made at least a few hours ahead, so there’s nothing to do at the last minute except pull it out of the freezer. And the method is truly as easy as one, two, three. One: Make a cookie crust. Two: Scoop or layer ice cream into the crust and drizzle on hot fudge. Three: Freeze until the ice cream firms up. You can change the ice cream flavors or gussy up the toppings to suit the moment, so this dessert can be as playful or sophisticated as you like.
As for whether to use store-bought ice cream or homemade, I leave that up to you. I like to use my time for the fun and creative part—making pies out of excellent store-bought ice cream. But if you have time to make your own ice cream, all the better. For the necessary equipment, consult the review of ice cream makers.
Make it your way
This recipe for Triple Chocolate Ice Cream Pie is a blueprint for many other fabulous ice cream pies. It’s all about your favorite flavors and combinations, so after you try some of my ideas below, branch out on your own. Here’s how.
Vary the crust. There’s a world beyond chocolate wafer crusts. Try crushed sugar cones, graham crackers, chocolate graham crackers, biscotti, shortbread, amaretti, ginger snaps, or your own favorite.
Vary the garnish. The possibilities are endless. Try crushed candy bars, fresh strawberries, chocolate-dipped dried apricots or other dried fruit, crushed toffee or brittle, or cocoa nibs.
Add crunch between layers. For textural interest, consider sprinkling crushed cookies or candies, crystallized ginger, or chocolate chips between the layers of ice cream. I’ve found that good-quality fruit preserves also taste great sandwiched between ice cream.
More ice cream pie ideas
• Ginger ice cream pie. You’ll love a simple ginger snap crust filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with scoops of ginger ice cream. Dust the top with chopped crystallized ginger.
• Refreshing sorbet pie. Fill an amaretti cookie or graham cracker crust with vanilla ice cream and top with scoops of sorbet. Mango, pineapple, and coconut are luscious with a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes. Or try raspberry and strawberry sorbets topped with mixed berries.
• Peachy ice cream pie. Fill a graham cracker or ginger snap crust with peach ice cream, top with scoops of peach sorbet, sprinkle with toasted almonds, and serve with sliced ripe peaches.
• Banana split pie. Try chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream in a chocolate cookie crust. Serve with chocolate, strawberry, or caramel sauces and garnish with thinly sliced bananas.
• Mango ice cream pie. Use mango or vanilla ice cream as the base layer in a crushed shortbread cookie crust and top with scoops of mango sorbet. Serve with sliced fresh mangos and raspberry sauce.