Igloo Cake

Makes one 8 1/2-inch dome cake

Piped buttercream-frosting blocks transform a chocolate-vanilla ice cream cake into an igloo that sweet marzipan penguins call home. Flakes of dried coconut "snow" and a cake stand trimmed with sugar-dusted paper icicles complete the icy habitat ( download the icicle template).


  • Unsalted butter, for baking sheets

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more, sifted, for baking sheets

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar

  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt

  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 ¼ cups low-fat buttermilk

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • Vegetable oil, cooking spray

  • 1 quart good-quality chocolate ice cream

  • 1 ½ quarts good-quality vanilla ice cream

  • White-Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large marshmallows, halved

  • White, pale-blue, and silver sanding sugar, for decorating

  • Marzipan Penguins

  • Desiccated unsweetened coconut, for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets. Line bottoms with parchment paper; butter parchment. Dust with cocoa powder, and tap out excess; set aside.

  2. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs and yolk, 1 1/4 cups warm water, the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on low speed until smooth.

  3. Divide batter between prepared sheets. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 16 minutes. Let cool on wire racks 30 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

  4. Coat an 8 1/2-inch (9-cup) ovenproof bowl with cooking spray. Line with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Cut one cake layer crosswise into 4-inch-wide strips, and use to line bowl (there should be no gaps). Cut a 9-inch round from remaining cake layer; set aside.

  5. One at a time, mix ice creams in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Spread 1 cup vanilla ice cream over cake in bowl; spread 1 1/2 cups chocolate ice cream on top. Continue layering ice creams, alternating 1 1/2 cups of each flavor, stopping 1/2 inch from rim. Press cake over ice cream. Wrap in plastic; freeze overnight.

  6. Turn out cake onto a 9-inch cake board. Freeze 15 minutes. Spread a thin layer of buttercream (about 1/2 cup) over cake, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer remaining buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a basket-weave tip (such as Ateco #898). With smooth side of tip facing you, and starting at top of cake, pipe 1-inch rectangles all over cake. If cake begins to soften, freeze 15 minutes.

  7. Using marshmallows, make the outline of the door. Using a smaller basket-weave tip (such as Ateco #895), pipe rectangles over marshmallows. Sprinkle sanding sugar all over cake. Freeze until ready to serve, up to 1 day. Attach marzipan penguins to cake with toothpicks, and garnish with coconut "snow."

Cook's Notes

A thin "crumb coat" of frosting provides a smooth surface for the piped-on frosting. Working from top to bottom, and turning cake as you work, pipe "blocks" so they overlap each other slightly.

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