Salted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

Salted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

I think it’s safe to say that the stress of the wedding was making me certifiably insane. Not the wedding itself, and not the details involved because I pretty much had every tiny detail planned. Right down to our first dance to Jose Gonzales’ Heartbeats that the DJ would scratch about 56 seconds in – a surprise to Thom – because as long as I can remember he’s talked about how epic it’d be to have a “first dance” to Ginuwine’s Differences. And so we would.

There was a grand entrance to Beirut’s Postcards from Italy. And although we weren’t going to get married under willow trees, we were going to get married under trees and the big, blue Colorado sky. I was going to dance down the aisle with my dad, but was working on getting him a djembe so that he could opt out of the whole dancing thing, if he wanted. There was going to be a family-style feast with seasonal, organic eats and so much booze that everyone would be completely shitfaced by the end of the night. This was everything I wanted for a good six months. Rather, everything I convinced myself I wanted because there are certain expectations that come when you decide to make a lifelong commitment to another human being. Expectations to focus on, not only your relationship and the love and devotion but, the people involved who have supported and carried and helped you trudge through the bad and coast through the good. I do not doubt the importance of these people but for me, the significance of a wedding has always been to solidify a pact we made so many years ago. It has always been about us.

After crunching the numbers and looking at the total cost for the wedding, which was only a few grand shy of the amount we saved to spend four months in Europe (insert seriously horrified emoji face), I came to my senses and he did, too. One early spring morning before we were both heading our separate ways we laid across the bed and talked about our dream wedding. What would you do if no one else mattered? Turns out we wouldn’t get married in Denver. We wouldn’t even get married in the States. So I let out a heavy sigh followed by a questioning, Thom, what the fuck are we doing?

Churnin'Califia Farms AlmondmilkSalted chocolate ice creamIce cream cake makin'Coconut whipped  creamFudge swirlSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cakeSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

Four years ago we spread Thom’s dad’s ashes near a little island in County Fermanagh, Ireland. I never met his father, unless you count the time I had to help identify him at the morgue then, well, I guess I did. I always joke with Thom when he gets down about us never meeting that, We did! Chuck was just reaaaaally quiet. It’s a pretty terrible joke but I think if you can’t make light of a heavy situation, you’re not doing it right.

Besides, he laughs every time.

So anyway, I planned a surprise trip to Ireland, contacted members of Thom’s Clan, secretly smuggled the remains of what would have been my future father-in-law onto a plane (there’s a really funny story about that but.. another day) (maybe), and next thing I knew we were having a Gaelic ceremony in the middle of Ireland with people who welcomed us and took us in and loved us like their own. After we spread Chuck’s ashes I gave Thom some time at the end of the dock to say his goodbyes. I remember looking at him in his dark gray suit, watching the way the hazy sunlight flickered and danced on the surface of the water around him, and the way my heart completely shattered because laying your father to rest, after a very unexpected and tragic accident, might be up there with One of the Most Terrible Things a 26 Year Old Has to Do. So I stood there watching him, heart breaking but my love for him deepening and I told myself – and I think I even said it out loud – I will marry this man, in this spot, one day. I will commit to love and protect and ground him, as long as we’re both alive. And I will do so right here, with the powdery speckles of Chuck that have since become one with the land.

And so we are, on 20 June 2015. We’re taking a plane and inviting our favorite humans (plus our beloved wedding photographer) and getting married on that little Island. And afterward we’re hauling everyone back to Dublin for a feast at one of our favorite restaurants, followed by a pub crawl where I expect my ivory gown will get heavily stained with Guinness and Jameson-gingers. But it’ll be worth it.

As for me? The wedding is no longer making me certifiably insane. In fact, I’m over the moon and anxious, counting down the days and laughing at the fact that I tried so hard to go against my instincts when I knew better. Trust that gut, folks. It’ll never steer you wrong. Now, how about some ice cream cake?

Salted chocolate pretzel ice cream cakeSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cakeSalted chocolate pretzel ice cream cake

Notes: I went back and forth debating whether I wanted to make this with pretzel or graham cracker crumbs, but in the end the pretzels won out because I had two big bags of them in the pantry. However, graham cracker or cookie crumbs would work just the same. Or maybe even waffle cone crumbs? Someone please make this with finely ground waffle cone crumbs. I should note that if you’re not into sweet/salty desserts, you probably will not like the pretzel crust. The hot fudge recipe makes just enough to swirl the top of the cake, but I tripled it because I like to keep a jar of fudge in the fridge. If you want to do the same, it will keep for 2-3 weeks. Although the cake looks over the top and complicated, many of the components are made beforehand, making the assembly process ridiculously easy. But I cannot stress enough: Make sure your ice cream is soft and spreadable (but not runny). If it’s not, assembling the cake will be a huge pain in the ass.

This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions are my own, and I think Califia rules.

SALTED CHOCOLATE PRETZEL ICE CREAM CAKE

Pretzel crust
1 1/2 cups finely ground pretzel crumbs
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk

Hot fudge
2 ounces good quality dark chocolate
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons Califia Farms unsweetened almondmilk
Pinch of flaky sea salt

You’ll also need
Salted double chocolate ice cream, thawed (1.5x recipe)
Coconut whipped cream (2x recipe)
Pretzel pieces

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper then set a round 8″ cake ring (at least 3″ deep) in the middle. Line the cake ring with a piece of round parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pretzel crumbs and cane sugar then mix in the coconut oil until combined and mixture is sandy. Add the almondmilk and mix with your fingers, just until it’s combined. Take a couple of handfuls of the mixture and press it into the cake ring. The thickness is up to you, but I prefer the bottom layer to be no more than 1/4″ thick. Layer with 1/3 of the softened ice cream and gently use a spoon to spread it over the pretzel crumbs. Don’t press too hard or else you’ll crack the crust. Take a few more big handfuls of the pretzel crumbs (I like this layer to be the thickest) and sprinkle them over top of the ice cream. Transfer the cake and batch of softened ice cream to the freezer for at least 45 minutes, but remove the ice cream 15 minutes before the cake. When the cake has chilled, spread remaining softened ice cream over the pretzel crumbs then add the rest of the pretzel crumbs in your bowl. Cover cake and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Prepare the hot fudge sauce by melting the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat (microwaving would work, as well – but microwaves freak me out so we don’t own one). Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the rice syrup, almondmilk, and salt, then remove from heat. Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

To finish assembling the cake, heat the chilled fudge in a hot water bath (put it in a bowl with boiling water up to the fudge line and let sit for 10 minutes). Top cake with coconut whipped cream, then transfer the hot fudge to a small plastic bag and snip the corner of the bag, making a small opening. Squeeze over coconut whipped cream then drag a knife through it to swirl. Top with pretzel pieces, if desired.

Place the cake back in the freezer and let the whipped topping firm up for 20-30 minutes. To remove the cake from the ring, heat it using a blow torch or wrap the ring in a hot, wet towel for 2-3 minutes. Use a hot knife to slice the cake and serve immediately. Cake will keep in a freezer safe, air tight container for up to four weeks. Let thaw for 30 minutes before serving a cake that’s been freezing longer than 24 hours.

Yield: 12-14 slices

  • molly yeh July 30, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    yes, i just choked back tears reading this. this is such a beautiful post. i am so so happy for you and thom and so excited for you guys to get married in ireland!

    goodness, what i’d give to not be certifiably insane right now. you’re making this scrapping-the-wedding-plans thing sound all too tempting!

    oh and, hi, this ice cream cake sounds *perfect*

  • Kelley July 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    Incredibly beautiful. Your writing makes those moments so real and meaningful.
    And your pictures make that ice cream cake look so demolishable (not a word, but it feels so right).

  • Heather July 30, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    You were already pretty high in my books, but this story, your plan,your wedding, oh man, you are the best. It sounds like it is going to be amazing. Plus Dublin, pub hopping, in your wedding dress is so absolutely perfect. I am so happy for you.

  • Cady July 30, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    If you someday add a pistachio ice cream recipe to your repertoire, that would be amazing in here! Thinking green for Ireland vibes of course. Congratulations!

  • cynthia | two red bowls July 30, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    this post squeezed my heart in so many ways. i am so sorry to hear about thom’s father, but what you’ve decided to do in light of it is too wonderful for words. YES for scrapping plans and getting married in ireland! like molly said, it is sounding pret-ty good right about now. and um, this CAKE. i love what you do with pretzels and chocolate, lady. that sounds a little wrong, but it’s so right.

    p.s. we’re getting married a week apart next year! high-five!!!

  • Sherrie | With Food + Love July 30, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    I went through a very similar struggle three years ago when I got engaged. I had crafted up an entire specific wedding scene that took me 30 years to daydream and then when the day finally came I went for it. We put the {very expensive} deposit down on our dream location, hired our farm-to-table caterers and wrote out our 200+ guest list…then 6 very stressful months later we cancelled all of it and had a private ceremony + backyard party follow with just the closest of our favorite humans in the world and it was the VERY BEST decision I’ve ever made. It was like I set myself free.

    I loved reading every little piece of this. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Ashlae. Thom is going to be one, very happily married man. So many congrats to the two of you + infinite amount of years in married bliss. Marriage is best, regardless of what anyone tells you, IT IS THE BEST.

    XO SHERRIE

  • The Vegan Cookie Fairy July 30, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    YES to that wedding and YES to this cake. You’re so right – always follow your instincts. Your wedding is your own, you shouldn’t have to please anyone else. I always feel a pang in my heart when I see people making grand wedding plans because that’s what their family/families want.

  • Sara @ Cake Over Steak July 30, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Wow, major respect for what you guys decided to do. I’m getting married in about two weeks (!!!) and it certainly HAS made me certifiably insane (the kind of insane that makes me call everything “the fridge” for some reason). Even though it’s been absolutely crazy and way more expensive than a party should be, I think I’ve ended up with the kind of wedding I’ve always wanted, so at least that’s a comfort. Best of luck to you and Thom – it sounds like your wedding is going to be perfect. xoxo

  • Renee (will frolic for food) July 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Things that made me cry: this post. That moment with Thom and his father. Damn… Also, I’m resonating with this whole post on marriage and going with your gut. I applaud you for being brave enough to do your wedding the way you want it.

    In other news, I think it’s safe to say we have the same taste in music. And scratching Jose mid way to play Ginuwine is effing AMAZING. I like you a lot. (I didn’t even mention how amazing this ice cream cake is. So good.)

  • Ieva Marija @ Skanios Mintys July 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    This post was one of the most beautiful, inspiring and full of light things I’ve ever read in my life. I don’t know you in real life, but I am sooo happy for you and your upcoming beautiful wedding! Being happy is what life’s about and following your gut usually guides you exactly to that. Oh, and the cake looks amazing. I am living on ice cream cakes right now as it is so incredibly hot in my country!

  • Michelle July 30, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    I love the wedding plans. That’s a wedding with heart and soul alright. And it will be beautiful.

    Besos, m

    PS also love the cake. omg.

  • Jenny Stockton July 30, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Atta girl!

  • Melissa @ Treats With a Twist July 30, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    I adore this.
    Its all so true.
    I wanted to get married and have an outdoor space reception with lights strung and people dancing under the stars.
    I didn’t plan that. I planned an epic indoor mess. And know what? The venue closed. They stole our money. And we were left with no reception 5 weeks before D-day.
    Guess what? A new place that hadn’t even opened yet let us use their space. It had a porch and lights strung through the trees. And we danced outside. It was amazing.

  • J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats July 30, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Lovely post and love the recipe for this. As I scroll down thru my bloglovin feed I tend to lose track or which blog is which and when I was looking at this I was impressed but sort of mentally brushing it off due to the copious amounts of whipped cream and ice cream. And then it was like ‘Oh wait! Its all coconut and almond milk and brown rice syrup.” Nevermind, making/bookmarking/pinning this asap.

  • Katie @ Produce on Parade July 30, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    This was an epic story. I had similar feelings about Todd and my wedding, but when it was all said and done I am glad it was larger (and by that I mean it wasn’t just the two of us on top of our special cliff spot in a thicket of birch trees, which is where I would have prefered to have gotten married if I knew it wouldn’t insult our friends and family). Thom’s story about his dad was heartbreaking. I am glad you are able to lighten the mood, that is important I have learned. This cake looks amazing and certainly a de-stresser!

  • Crystal | Apples & Sparkle July 30, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Lovely writing and beautiful story. : ) This ice cream dessert is amazing! I am a sweet/salty gal all the way!

  • Nora July 30, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    From a fellow-certifiably-insane bride-to-be (only, unlike you, I still am one), I am sending a huge virtual high five for following your gut and planning such a beautiful and meaningful wedding.

  • Stephanie July 30, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    This post made me cry a little bit, and laugh at the same time. It hit so close to home. I ended up having a wedding on the beach at sunset, 12 people total, and it was exactly the right decision for us. Follow your heart and your instincts, no matter the craziness that will try to draw you in.
    By the way, I literally had just eaten my 1st bowl (of what will be MANY) of your Salted Double Chocolate Ice Cream when I sat down to read your post, having bought an ice cream maker expressly for this recipe. WOW!!! Beyond delicious! I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and recipes :) I look forward to more.

  • Elizabeth Jarrard July 30, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    What a beautiful story! I’m so happy for you both–it’s always best to go with your gut.

    and this cake. swoon.

  • Grace @ Earthy Feast July 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in the whole ‘this is how I should do things because it’s what’s expected’ but this is your wedding and gosh, your life! And life is special and short and you have to do what makes you happy. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health July 30, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    im so happy for you and thom…

  • Claudia July 30, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Beautiful words, beautiful post and Thom’s a lucky fellow! I’d marry for the cake alone!

  • Erica July 30, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I so admire you two for following your hearts. You are truly an inspiration, both in and out of the kitchen. :-) Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of your life so candidly and even more thanks for posting kickass recipes like this.

    Really random observation: Thom is tall (and I love that he rocks a skinny tie!)

  • Barb@ThatWasVegan? July 30, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    What a great story! I’m glad you decided to get married YOUR way, and it sounds like it’ll be fabulous- especially the pub crawl ;)

    And that cake? OH MY!

  • Batya July 30, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Oh Ashlae, this post made me very weepy. Thom is very lucky to have you, and you’re lucky to have him. Burying a parent at any age is impossibly difficult (there’s never an easy time), but it breaks my heart that he had to go through it at 26. That’s too young.
    How special that you will be married in a place that has meaning. It sounds like you’ll have all you need on your special day– loved ones gathered on a beautiful island and a pub crawl. You don’t need anything else. Really. Now eat that cake…and if there are any leftovers I’m on Detroit Street. So nice meeting you yesterday. Let’s do it again in September!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar July 30, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    This is the prettiest thing I’ve seen all day. LOVE!

  • Medha @ Whisk & Shout July 30, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Holy moly. This is all kinds of epic. And that includes the post. I love how you’re a living, breathing example of when ‘doing what makes you actually happy’ WORKS. Rock on. Pub crawling in Ireland in a wedding gown is probably the best way to make memories :)

  • Maja July 31, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    DUDE! That story, and that plan, I love it! Way to follow your heart and not getting stuck in today’s (american?) societies’ convention and expectation about magazine perfect weddings. Screw that.
    Also, that cake, are you kidding?!
    You’re such a boss.

    P.S: Being a member of the dead dads club sucks. Big hug to Thom. I thinks it’s lovely you’ll include his dad in that way. Hope one day, (if I ever get married) I can find such a way for that too.

  • Our Food Stories July 31, 2014 at 3:10 AM

    WOW! looks so delicious!! i could so have this for breakfast now!! :D
    x
    laura&nora

  • Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño July 31, 2014 at 5:09 AM

    Absolutely lovely post. I am so happy for you both and wish you the very, very best. Weddings are joyous, beautiful occasions and it sounds like yours will be no different. The Cake also, incredible!

  • Kathryn July 31, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    Although I’ve never had to organise a wedding thankfully, I can totally see how it becomes so easy to get swept up in what you feel like you ‘should’ be doing and trying to please everyone else and not actually doing what you actually really want to do. Kudos to you guys for actually being able to recognise that and doing something about so you will get the perfect wedding.

  • Allison July 31, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I loved this. Your wedding sounds like perfection and I imagine no one will forget it. So special! The pub crawl sounds especially fun.

    This cake is gorgeous. The salty sweet combo would be insane!

  • Jessica @ Sweet Menu July 31, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Beautiful ice cream cake! Would make a pretty awesome birthday cake!

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  • Katie @ Butterlust August 1, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    I’ve gotta stop reading your blog at work because, damn girl, sometimes your words just get me! You write (and cook and photograph) so beautifully — thank you for sharing YOU.

    As for you & Thom…well, I don’t even know you guys but I’m pretty sure you’re the best kind of people. Congrats on following your hearts – it’s going to be a perfect wedding.

    And for the ice cream cake — well, duh. It looks AMAZING.

  • Doris clarenbach August 1, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Sounds delicious

  • kristie @ birchandwild.com August 2, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    This post is so beautiful that it made me tear up. What love and devotion you have. It really is a joy to read this. Not to mention this ice cream cake looks incredibly rich and delicious. Perfect for recovering from a half lost mind :)

  • Baby June August 2, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    Oh my goodness I would just love a piece of that cake!!

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  • Ashley August 4, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Couldn’t be happier for you + Thom!!!!!! The wedding is sure to be everything you’ve always dreamed of! And this cake…

  • Joyti August 5, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    This post is everything. Perfection. Prezels and ice cream. And the beautiful (though sad, still beautiful) story about Thom’s dad and your perfect, PERFECT wedding plans. I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it. You’ve got so many better things :D

  • Sophie August 5, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Wow…. what a pair you two are. Thank you for sharing these beautiful sentiments and I’m so glad you’re following your gut! What a wonderful wedding Ireland will see! I admire that so much and though I loved our wedding, the stress of planning was unreal. If I had to do it again……….!

    This cake is really wonderful! Can’t wait to try it!

  • sara forte August 5, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    such a good call. Its going to be so magical and I cannot wait to read all about it. Cheers to you for reigning it back in to what matters. Oh and the cake, gorgeous.

  • Sonja August 6, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    You are going to have the COOLEST WEDDING EVER. I’m so excited for this adventure and it sounds simply perfect. Also – this cake looks quite amazing. I’ll add this to my “things for Ashlae to make when we meet in real life” list :)

  • Sini | my blue&white kitchen August 7, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Loved to read this. I think it’s definitely the right, and may I say wise, choice to really listen to how you two want that day to be. Because in the end only you two matter. I’m sure your wedding will be amazing, Ashlae! And this cake just looks insane. Hot fudge <3

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  • donna clay August 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I absolutely love this post!! You get on here, looking for a recipe for a most decadent desert, & the real treat comes to us in a touching account of the joining of two human beings, that brings both tears & smiles. Thank you ever so much, for sharing.

  • Ursula August 11, 2014 at 3:54 AM

    To be honest…the combination of a salted ice cream cake didn’t sound very tasty for me….but even though I was curious to try it….and I was surprised how yummi it tasted! :) Thank you for sharing :)

  • Lilli @ Sugar and Cinnamon August 11, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    This is the most spectacular cake I have seen in quite a while! I think it’s perfectly acceptable to go insane organising a wedding :)

  • Teffy Perk August 12, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Lady you work magic!! When I first saw the picture, I thought no way this could be vegan and healthy! So glad I was wrong. Looks almost too good to be true!

  • Tamara August 13, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Loved the story! So glad you got your wedding! And thank you for the awesome recipe :-)

  • lexi @ glitterinc.com August 13, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Holy cow, I 100% want in on this!! Looks amazing!
    xx Lexi

  • Maria Lopez August 14, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Beautiful and looks amazing..:) thank you for sharing…:)

  • Deryn @ Running on Real Food August 16, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    I love this story, it gave me shivers! Congratulations and I wish you the most amazing of weddings. Now on to this cake – whaaaattt, this looks insane!! Everything I love in one delicious place :) thanks for sharing!!

  • Vanessa @ VeganFamilyRecipes August 17, 2014 at 6:13 AM

    This looks absolutely incredible! I’m speechless and hungry now. I’ll need to make this ASAP! This pretzel ice cream cake definitely showcases that vegan food CAN look and taste amazing. Pinning now!

  • Jenn @ A Toast to the Good Life August 20, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    I’d like to dive, face first, into this pie. WOW. Talk about adding every ingredient that I have zero self control around… I will be 100% trying this recipe this weekend. WOW.

  • Marissa August 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    This looks incredible and can I just say I have made many of your scrumptious treats and they have gone over so well. Only thing I am wondering about is, why you use the Califia Farms almond milk exclusively? I went looking for it since I see you use it so much and thought it must be great, and found it has Carrageenan in it, which is believed by some to cause inflammation and a list of other supposed effects. Just wondering if that is something you are concerned with.

    • Ashlae August 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM

      Hi Marissa –

      I use Califia Farms exclusively because I am a huge fan of the company and their delicious almondmilk. As for the addition of carrageenan, I’ve not noticed any of the supposed adverse health impacts, therefore I don’t feel the need to remove trivial amounts of carrageenan from my diet. The good news is that Califia Farms has listened to their customers and will be removing carrageenan from all of their products next year! :)

      http://www.califiafarms.com/califia-farms-commits-to-replacing-carrageenan-in-all-products/

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  • LeAndra September 12, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    I finally made time to read my backlogged list of blog posts this evening, and as I was scrolling through I thought, “I should leave a comment telling Ashlae how much I enjoy her photography.” Then I read this. Absolutely lovely. All of it. Thank you.

  • jaime // the briny September 30, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    I’ve just recently stumbled upon your blog. I love its design–it’s so clean and beautiful!–and I think your writing is awesome! I’m officially charmed. I loved reading your story. thanks for sharing it!

  • Jane @ Star Radio Monroe October 12, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    Going to try your recipe for sure! Loving your blog xx

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