This post originally appeared in the June 6, 2022 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
As someone who bakes cake for recreation, I have had more than my share of failures over the years. Because I hate wasting food, I refuse to throw anything away in all but the most extreme circumstances, like the time I accidentally swapped salt for sugar while making a genoise.
A few years ago, I had my most prolific failure to date. On the heels of a breakup, I was determined to bake myself an eat-your-feelings birthday cake, but it proceeded to collapse not once, but twice, leaving me with two very sad, sunken cakes that I ripped up in a fit of pique, stuffed into a plastic bag, and stuck in the freezer. Since I was now a person with a bag of cake and limited freezer space, I began thinking of ways to repurpose it. I didn’t have to look far; the next thing I knew, my dead cake had been reborn as an ice cream topping. If Ben & Jerry’s and Jeni’s can mix cake with ice cream, I thought, then why couldn’t I — and everyone else with a pint and a cake fail to spare?
Cake crumbled over ice cream is nothing less than a god-tier treat, one so flawless it will inspire you to bake a cake for the sole purpose of destroying it to eat over ice cream. (Here I should add that tearing apart cake with your bare hands is one of life’s greatest tactile pleasures.)
And it doesn’t stop with cake: So long as the flavor is there, any failed or lackluster baked good, from cookies and brownies to pies and tarts, can be upcycled into an ice cream topping. I’ve done this with semi-stale cookies, blondies, leftover graham cracker pie crust, too-crumbly brownies, and various quick breads. All of them, unsurprisingly, have excelled as ice cream toppings.
I’d go so far as to say that a lot of baked goods are actually better this way: Like frosting, ice cream can cover up any number of sins. The only crime it can’t hide, really, is that of throwing away unattractive but perfectly edible baked goods. So don’t do it. Eat them over ice cream instead.