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Vanilla-Pecan Sand Castle


Crumbled butter-pecan cookies make a perfect beach for this delectable castle. The base is a square yellow cake, filled and then frosted with vanilla ice cream and decorated with whole and chopped pecans and more crushed cookies. The tower is made by pressing softened ice cream into a clean plastic sand-castle mold.

  • Servings: 12
vanilla pecan sand castle

Source: Martha Stewart Kids, Summer



  1. Mix 2 1/2 pints ice cream in an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Quickly spoon ice cream into a 5 1/2 cup (5 1/2-by-5-inch) sand-castle mold, filling completely. Smooth surface. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until set, at least 10 hours (or up to 3 days).

  2. Trim domed top from the chilled yellow butter cake to make it level. Cut cake in half horizontally. Place the bottom layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Mix remaining ice cream with the electric mixer until smooth.Working quickly, spread about 2 1/2 cups ice cream over bottom layer; top with second layer. Spread remaining ice cream over top and sides of assembled cake. Chill in freezer until set, at least 4 hours (or overnight).

  3. Process cookies to form fine crumbs. Mound crumbs on a serving platter, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish. Reserve 16 pecan halves for garnish; break remaining nuts into small pieces.

  4. Transfer assembled square cake to the platter, centering it on top of the crumbs. Dip castle mold into a bowl of lukewarm water for about 15 seconds, being careful not to let water reach the rim. Pat mold dry. Remove plastic wrap; unmold ice cream castle onto the center of cake.

  5. Working quickly, line edges of castle with pecan halves and pieces. Chill cake in freezer at least 1 hour (or up to 5). Just before serving, sprinkle reserved cookie crumbs over castle. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before cutting.

Cook's Notes

Make this cake at least one day ahead since the ice-cream castle needs to freeze overnight.

Reviews Add a comment

  • lizk65
    12 AUG, 2009
    I have seen Nilla wafers used as sand.
  • dshorst
    12 AUG, 2009
    Has anyone tried to make this cake? How difficult is it? Any tips?
  • dbreitenbach
    12 AUG, 2009
    McLibby2, You could use almost any "brown" cookie processed in to crumbs. I would suggest using candy shells to decorate instead of pecans. Deni
  • mclibby2
    12 AUG, 2009
    if you have nut allergies, what else could you use for sand?