Carrot Cake Ice Cream (about 1 quart)

I’ve posted a lot of ice cream recipes lately (okay, two: caffe latte and double banana) but as the heat wave continues, I hope you’ll pardon me for sharing one more. In the crumb coating video tutorial, you may have noticed that after I leveled the three carrot cakes, I piled the scraps together on a plate.

If you know me at all, you know I didn’t just throw them away. I have a major weakness for random kitchen scrap ice cream but also a childhood fixation with cake and ice cream mashed together.

carrot cake ice cream

Typical carrot cake ice creams usually fails me in one of three ways. 1) They go all schmancy and flavor the ice cream like carrot cake without actually harming any bits of cake. I need cake to be harmed, people. 2) They use some random flavor of ice cream as a base with carrot cake bits and a cream cheese swirl, which gives a dissatisfying ratio of cake to “frosting.” Or 3) they skip the frosting element altogether. Commies.

I know those types of ice creams have their fans but it just doesn’t scratch the itch for me. Carrot cake, as a concept, has two elements: cake and frosting. I need any ice cream bearing that name to take the same approach.

chunks of carrot cake in cream cheese ice cream

I’m not saying you should make carrot cake just to make this ice cream, only that you should strongly consider thinking of your freezer as an Iron Chef-style vault for secret ingredients and stockpile your cake scraps so you can make it someday.

Kind of a no-brainer, but since the ice cream mimics cream cheese frosting, this recipe works amazingly well with red velvet cake. If you’re into that kind of thing. But in either case (in either cake?) keep the scraps in the fridge until you’re ready to stir them in since room temperature cake tends to disintegrate.

Carrot Cake Ice Cream
10 oz whole milk
10 oz cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (seeds reserved) or 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
6 egg yolks
13 ounces sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt or more, to taste
2 lemons, juiced
1 ounce vodka or a liquor of your choosing
about 2 cups of carrot cake scraps

In a medium pot, bring the milk and cream to a simmer together with the vanilla bean pod. When the mixture begins to bubble, shut off the heat and cover with a lid. Steep for one hour.

Meanwhile, put the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer or a spatula until smooth and creamy. This helps prevent the cream cheese from curdling when the hot custard base is added. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, salt and reserved vanilla bean seeds.

Return the dairy mixture to a simmer and fish out the vanilla bean (don’t forget to scrape out out all of the “vanilla marrow” from inside the pod).

Whisk some of the hot dairy into the egg yolks, one ladle-full at a time, until the egg mixture is quite warm. Then whisk the egg mixture into the pot of cream. Turn the heat to medium and stir constantly until the ice cream base reaches 145° and thickens considerably.

Immediately shut off the heat and strain the custard through a sieve and into the bowl of cream cheese. Whisk until the cream cheese completely melts into the custard base. Also whisk in the lemon juice and vodka, as well as the vanilla extract if you’re using that instead of a vanilla bean.

empty bowl of melted ice cream

Cool in an ice bath and refrigerate overnight before churning. When the ice cream has finished churning, remove the dasher and fold in the carrot cake scraps with a rubber spatula. There’s no need to chop up the scraps beforehand as the folding motion in and of itself will break the cake up into manageable bits.

Devour immediately or freeze to enjoy later.


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Any questions?

Jul 24, 2012 ·  9:52 AM

Carrot cake is one of my favorites and this looks like a delicious summer treat. It made my day to get this first thing in the morning in my email inbox!

 · The Culinistas ·

Jul 24, 2012 ·  4:27 PM

@The Culinistas, I’m so happy to hear it!! I am such a sucker for carrot cake, it was one of the layers in my wedding cake.


Jul 24, 2012 ·  5:47 PM

Stella I urgently need help (some would say that is no surprise)! Do you have any really fabulous ice cream(ish)recipes which do NOT require an ice cream maker/churn? I cannot afford the luxury/necessity of one at the moment.

 · madmacaw · 

Jul 24, 2012 ·  6:03 PM

Nonie, maybe a semifreddo? If you wanted to go the carrot cake route you could probably press the cake scraps in the bottom as a crust and flavor the semifreddo similar to the ice cream here?

 · Christopher · 

Jul 24, 2012 ·  8:04 PM

@Nonie, my friend Anna has written an excellent guide to making ice cream at home without a machine. Visit her blog for all of the details. I haven’t experimented with her technique myself, but she’s on twitter (@verysmallanna) and always available to answer questions. I think these recipes would work well with her technique.

@Christopher, thanks for swooping in with suggestions! The carrot cake would make some pretty excellent layers in a semifreddo for sure!


Jul 25, 2012 ·  5:14 PM

@ Christopher, thank you for the suggestion. I do already make some semifreddo’s but the texture is different and I am not sure how well they would stand up to adding cake – I may have to try.

@ Stella, thank you for the link to Anna’s blog! I will have fun researching this. I make semi-freddo with the egg yolks left over from my SMBC – got to make some mocha SMBC to go with a mocha velvet cake tomorrow! So will have plenty of spare egg yolks after that.

As always, thanks for your ideas and suggestions,

 · madmacaw · 

Jul 26, 2012 ·  4:11 PM

@ Christopher, thank you – I do make semi-freddo’s already but have never tried adding cake or other i.e. choc chips, etc.

@ Stella, thank you for the link to Annaa’s blog. She has got some good ideas! I currently have a number of egg yolks waiting for me to be inventive following the making of a mocha SMBC to go with a mocha velvet cake which I made today. Have you ever tried using condensed milk in ice-cream? Thought that it may work due to the high sugar levels…?

As always thank you for your thoughts.

 · madmacaw · 

Jul 26, 2012 ·  6:01 PM

thanks for another wonderful idea! I am loving the addition of cream cheese to my ice creams. Now prepare for a total geek moment: Do you use a commercial sized ice cream machine? I have a 2 qt Kitchenaid ice cream attachment and have also used Cuisinart’s, but have never been satisfied with the texture of my homemade ‘scream. I thought David Lebovitz’s book ‘The Perfect Scoop’ would solve my problems, but alas, the stuff was still too hard out of the freezer and too eggy, and sometimes coated my mouth with fat.
I just heard an interview with Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and my problems seem to be solved! (no, I’m not getting paid to recommend her book, tho she has one!)The secret lies in the use of cream cheese and a comparatively lean ice cream base much like gelato:
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp cream cheese (1.5 oz)
1/8- 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
The cream cheese is whipped in at the end of cooking everything else (until the cornstarch is cooked through)
I dislike corn syrup so substituted a homemade inverted sugar syrup, which is another form of glucose and is the other “secret” of this recipe. Honey could be used too. Either way it prevents unwanted. The syrup is 2 cups sugar to one cup water and 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar or juice of 1/2 a lemon. Boil 20 minutes to change (most)fructose molecules to glucose molecules!
I just had to spread the new religion of this Gelato-style for all us home cooks that have high standards for our homemade ice cream

 · salty · 

Jul 26, 2012 ·  9:58 PM

‘unwanted crystallization’

 · salty · 

Jul 27, 2012 ·  9:00 AM

@Nonie, you may have already seen my post about it, but another great way to use up tons of egg yolks is to make French buttercream. Especially if you’re known for using lots of buttercream. Enjoy your machine-less ice cream adventures!

@salty, I have a pro gelato machine at work, but the only real difference between it and the typical home maker is that I can make back-to-back batches. The churning style and chamber style are the same. Just out of curiosity, why do you avoid corn syrup?


Jul 27, 2012 ·  4:27 PM

for political reasons! LOL

 · salty · 

Jul 27, 2012 ·  7:21 PM

Harm cake…let’s do it. I’m totally in!

 · fatpiginthemarket ·

Jul 27, 2012 ·  7:38 PM

I’ve been wanting to try a carrot ice cream recipe! Bookmarked! Thank you!

 · Sook ·

Jul 28, 2012 ·  6:57 PM

@salty, intriguing… something to do with GMO corn?

@fatpiginthemarket, oh yeah. Cake is going down.

@Sook, I hope you love it! You can use any carrot cake recipe, of course.


Jul 30, 2012 ·  7:48 PM

YES! I am totally loving the use of cream cheese in ice cream bases. In our kitchen we’re test batching a whole slew of ice cream bases and we’ve found (thanks in large part to Jeni from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams which is a MUST HAVE ice cream cookbook, as far as I’m concerned) that cream cheese in ice cream base adds such a lovely texture and the merest pop of acidity that really allows other flavors to shine.

Of course, this being an ice cream base that is simulating cream cheese frosting I get where you’re coming from here, but all of this is to say that cream cheese in ice cream bases is unfailingly delicious in my book.

And as a huge carrot cake fan, this is on my MUST MAKE list!

 · Sara at The Cozy Herbivore ·

Jul 31, 2012 ·  9:22 AM

@Sara, you know for all I’ve heard about Jeni’s ice cream, I’ve never tried it or been to one of her shops (Lexington isn’t so far away from her home base). But it’s not hard at all for me to imagine the cream cheese being amazing in pretty much any recipe. Acidity does work wonders for most every flavor…


Feb 23, 2013 · 12:01 AM

Hi. Do you have an alternative ingredient to replace the vodka. I don’t have any alcohol on hand and really want to try this recipe. :/

 · Michelle · 

Feb 23, 2013 · 10:24 AM

Hi Michelle! Have any liquors in the house? The ice cream just needs a little shot of something to keep it creamy. I like vodka cos of the neutral flavor, but lots of other flavors would pair well too (like rum). If you don’t have anything, you can still make the ice cream, but it will not be scoopable straight from the fridge. After churning it it’ll be great, but post-freezing, you’ll need to let it soften in the fridge for 15 minutes or so before scooping.


Apr 17, 2013 · 12:12 AM

I have leftover carrot cake cupcakes that are already frosted (the ugly ones that never made it to the party). Would it work to include the frosted cake in this ice cream or would it be too much?

 · Alexandra · 

Apr 17, 2013 ·  9:27 AM

Hi Alexandra! I’ve never tried it out! I know from my experience freezing the buttercream (for later usage) that it freezes ROCK solid, so I’m guessing you would need to make sure it was in very small little smears, and not big globs, otherwise you’d have to bite into buttercream rocks. You could just knock the frosting off the top and go from there, though…


Apr 17, 2013 · 10:49 AM

Hi Stella! Thank for your quick reply. Good thought on the frozen buttercream rocks- I didn’t think of that! Maybe I will take the frosting off and make ice cream or just eat them as is. As ugly as they may be they are still delicious.

 · Alexandra · 

Apr 17, 2013 ·  9:17 PM

I’ve got a theory that ugly foods taste better…


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