Matching ice cream and cake is heavily dependent on the type and flavor of the cake. When selecting the ice cream, avoid bland pairings like chocolate with chocolate. Instead, build on a cake’s flavor by underscoring it with contrasting tastes, like carrot cake and lime ice cream. The more creative you are in your combinations, the tastier the dessert will be.
Since plain cakes — such as chocolate, vanilla, marble and red velvet — are by definition simple, you should avoid matching them with other plain ice cream flavors. For example, if you have baked a chocolate cake, pair it with a sweet or sour fruit ice cream. That way, the fruit ice cream can build on the chocolate’s rich, savory taste, adding new flavors to the dish.
Sweet Fruit and Vegetable
When you bake these types of cakes, the flavor can be overpowering and overbearing. Although many people desire sweetness, the ice cream needs to provide a counterbalance to the flavor. As such, complementing ice creams should include coffee, lime and lemon. These flavors offset the fruits and vegetables’ heavy flavors by cleansing the palette with every bite.
Tart Fruit and Vegetable
Bitter cakes take over your palette almost immediately. If you match a sour ice cream and a tart cake, your taste buds will overload with the intense taste. Instead, give your tongue a break. Pair fruit and vegetable cakes with a neutral, sugary ice cream, like vanilla, butter pecan or raisin.
Whether based in rum, vodka or any other alcohol, the cake will need a simple ice cream. Even if the alcohol does not fully saturate the cake, the taste will still be strong. Simple ice cream — such as vanilla, honey or almond — will highlight the flavor, while it will simultaneously provide a refreshing taste.
References and ResourcesFood Network: Lemon Layer Cake Recipe
Food & Wine: Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream Recipe
Lens and Lentils; Upside Down Pineapple Carrot Cake. Who Needs Frosting?; May 2010