Back in college a friend of mine once found himself stuck in his apartment with his roommates. The remnants of a hurricane raged outside. The power was out. They needed dinner.
They had a box of Tuna Helper, but no milk. But they did have a tub of melting ice cream. And so, they subbed ice cream for milk, and he said it tasted pretty OK! A win for fighting food waste and scrappy college ingenuity!
While I don’t wish Ice Cream Tuna Helper on any of you, dear readers, sometimes we ice cream enthusiasts do need to grapple with melted ice cream that simply will never live up to its formerly frozen glory. There’s a lot of interesting chemistry happening in ice cream and if it melts, odds are low that it will regain an ideal texture when it refreezes. Most likely you’ll get some ice crystals; you may encounter gumminess. Maybe that doesn’t bother you and you’ll eat it as is — awesome.
But if you don’t enjoy ice cream soup, there’s still hope for your carton of creamy sweetness! As Ron and his roommates discovered on that stormy day, you could use it as a rich milk substitute, even in something as far removed from dessert as Tuna Helper. For a perhaps more delicious use for that ice cream, however, I surveyed a number of top food bloggers. Thanks to all of them for supplying the photos and brilliant ideas for delicious desserts below! And head over here for some ideas on hot drinks made all the cozier with rich dollops of melted ice cream.
(Before we dive in, a word on food safety – foods can stay safe for several days or more as long as they’re kept at 40 degrees or below. So, if your ice cream melted because you left it out at an event, as long as the warmest parts stayed at 40 degrees or less, or didn’t exceed that temperature for more than a couple hours, the ice cream should still be safe to use.)
Melted Vanilla Ice Cream Pound Cake (from scratch)
Paula over at Call Me PMC notes that you can substitute melted ice cream for milk in a 1-to-1 ratio in just about any cake recipe. Just make sure to measure after the ice cream’s melted, given that different ice creams can have different amounts of air whipped into them. She says that her from-scratch Melted Ice Cream Pound Cake has a small crumb and tender texture, as well as a deliciously crusty outside.
If you don’t have time to bake a bundt cake from scratch, Paula’s also ready with a recipe that incorporates cake mix. She says this a great recipe to make with kids because it’s as simple as dumping and mixing the ingredients together. Here’s the recipe at Call me PMC.
Lori, who blogs at Foxes Love Lemons, developed this recipe after her husband accidentally put an ice cream carton in the fridge instead of the freezer. What started as an “oh no!” moment became an “oh, yes!” moment when she realized that ice cream’s combo of milk, sugar and vanilla was only some eggs away from being the perfect custard for dipping bread for French toast. She also recommends topping the finished product with some not-melted ice cream because, really, when we’re having ice cream for breakfast we should have as much ice cream for breakfast as possible.
Inspired by a Tik Tok video, this sweet bread from Melissa at Persnickity Plates will work with any ice cream flavor. Just add self-rising flour, mix, bake and you’re on your way. Melissa made hers Neapolitan and mixed in three separate bowls to preserve the different colors and flavors, but you can also try a one-bowl, one-flavor approach. Find the recipe, as well as ideas for a glaze and how to improvise if you don’t have self-rising flour, here.
Add some egg yolks to melted ice cream, bake, then sprinkle with sugar and blast with fire and you can achieve a relatively simple-to-prep creme brûlée. Angela over at the Short Order Cook provides guidance as well as how to achieve that crackly crust without a torch or a dragon (though if you have a dragon available to help, awesome! We definitely recommend that approach).