I am Jewish and my husband is Catholic and although we are raising our kids to be Jews,  we both look forward to our annual Xmas with his side of the family. 

As good NYers, we celebrate Xmas on a different day than 12/25, we celebrate a few days before and always a Saturday or Sunday before we depart on our vacation.  It probably works out for everyone because everyone has other parts of their family to celebrate with too. 

We have a few traditions.  First of all the gift exchange always starts from youngest to oldest.  But,  there has been some food traditions too.  I have been the chef over the last few years.  In years past I have made a standing rib roast but this year opted for brisket.  One tradition that I can never leave out is brussel sprouts.  Everyone expects them.  They are really quite easy.  I clean them up, douse in olive oil and kosher salt and then bake in the oven for about 30/40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Delicious. 

I have found another goodie that I served last year and everyone asked for again this year.  I was happy to please.  Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake.  Very festive looking and really good.  I will share the recipe.  Keep in mind that this recipe is the perfect basic ice cream cake recipe.  You could change the ice cream, add peanuts or sprinkles in the layers, use caramel instead of fudge etc. 

Ingredients:  23/24 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate bits, 15 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, 1/2 . corn syrup, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, one stick unsweetened butter, 7 cups peppermint ice cream.

The key here is a 9 inch springform pan.  I admit, that I made the peppermint ice cream from scratch a few days before making this but that is absolutely not necessary.  You could buy vanilla, add peppermints that have been crushed(they crush up really well in a Cuisinart) and some peppermint abstract and be fine.  Just take the cold ice cream and quickly mush all the above into it to create peppermint ice cream.

The crust.

15 ounces of chocolate wafer cookies crushed.  I used a Cuisinart to get the cookies really crushed.  Also, the box I used came in 9 ounce packages so I just crushed the entire thing and used accordingly.  Just judge your needs. 

1 stick of unsweetened butter and 8 ounces (1 cup) of semi sweet chocolate pieces.

Melt the butter and the chocolate together and then pour over the crushed chocolate wafers ( minus one cup which is to be used later ).  Make sure the crushed wafers get completely wet and coated.  Then pour into the springform pan and create a crust but pushing it with your fingers up the sides and on the bottom.  One you have created the crust, put it in the freezer for about an hour.

Ice Cream.  You need about 7 cups of ice cream of your liking.  This was peppermint.  You could do mint chip too but the pink is really pretty with the chocolate for the holiday.

Glaze.  15 ounces of semi sweet chocolate pieces, 1/2 cup of Karo corn syrup and 1 cup of heavy cream.  Mix the cream and syrup in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Then, put in the chocolate and whisk until completely dissolved.   It should be thick.  Let is stand for about an hour.

Once the crust is frozen, take it out and put about one inch of the ice cream evenly spread over the bottom.  First, take 3/4 cup of the set aside crushed chocolate wafers and evenly spread over the ice cream. Then, take the glaze, which is now cool, and take about half of that and spread over the ice cream.  It is tricky.  The glaze is hard to spread over the crushed wafers but use a spatula and do your best.  Mine didn't look so good but it did once the cake came out.  Put back in the freezer for about 4 hours.

When 4 hours are up,  take out the cake and spread the remaining ice cream evenly on top of the frozen glaze.   Before you put the ice cream on, warm up the remaining glaze just a bit to make it easier to work with.  Once the last of the ice cream is in, then pour the remaining glaze over the top of the ice cream.  You can move it around by manipulating the springform pan.  Now, put it back in the freezer for another 4 hours or even over night.  I kept it in the freezer for 2 days before I used it.

Right before you serve, take the cake out of the freezer.  Remove from the springform pan.  Take the remaining crushed wafers and spread over the cake.  Then, crush some peppermints and spread over that.  Presentation is always key. 

Serve by using a warm serrated knife to start.  This is really a delicious cake!

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Joanne Wilson Joanne Wilson loves food, books, and music. She lives in New York City. Her husband Fred and children Jessica, Emily, and Josh are bloggers too. More »

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