Ice Cream Crunch Bars (Tastes like Fried Ice Cream!)

This unique dessert tastes a little like fried ice cream bars, without any frying!  It’s a delicious mixture of rice krispies, toasted coconut and pecans and brown sugar that’s toasted in the oven with butter and then used to sandwich vanilla ice cream in the center.  It’s perfect for potlucks and family get-togethers, or simply a fun treat at home.  This recipe comes from our good family friend, Linda Pope.  BYU basketball fans might recognize that last name- she’s the mom of now head coach Mark Pope.  Our families grew up together and my Mom got this recipe from her over 20 years ago and we’ve been making it ever since!

layered ice cream bars on a plate

 

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fried ice cream bars

Description

Vanilla ice cream is sandwiched between a crispy buttery layer reminiscent of fried ice cream!


Ingredients

2 1/2 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
1 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cups brown sugar
optional: a few shakes of cinnamon
8 tablespoons real butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (or one ‘carton’ since they keep shrinking), softened to the consistency of soft serve (see note)


Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil or a parchment sling, extending a little over the edges of pan.

Place Rice Krispies, pecans, coconut, and brown sugar in a 9×13 inch pan.  Drizzle butter over mixture and combine well (a fork, or clean hands work well.)  If desired, sprinkle in a few shakes of ground cinnamon and mix in.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking time.  Remove from oven when toasted and golden brown and let mixture cool completely.

Remove half of crispy mixture and spread remaining half in an even layer on the bottom of pan.  Gently spoon softened ice cream on top of mixture.  Use a spoon and very gently spread mixture, being careful to not lift up crisp from bottom of pan.  (see notes for a tip). Spread ice cream out evenly and then top with remaining crisp mixture.  Gently press top crisp into ice cream with hands.  Cover pan with plastic or foil and chill until firm (preferably overnight.)  When ready to serve, use foil/parchment to completely remove ice cream from pan.  Slice into squares and serve.


Notes

Softening the Ice Cream:  I’ve found it helps to tear off ice cream container and place the whole frozen block into a large bowl.  Use a sharp knife to cut it into several large chunks.  At this point you can leave it at room temperature for a while, or very carefully microwave at a low heat to gently soften, stirring in between.  The consistency you’re going for is soft serve ice cream.  It helps to stir it vigorously as it softens until it’s nice and smooth.

Spreading the Ice Cream: If you’re not careful, you will mix up your bottom layer of crisp. With your ice cream very soft and smooth, just spoon large spoonfuls as evenly as possible in your 9×13 pan.  Avoid dumping the whole thing in there at once.  Stand next to your sink with hot water running and use a large metal spoon dipped in the hot water to spread ice cream.  The eat will help it glide over the ice cream smoothly and make the process much easier!  Continue dipping and spreading until it’s smooth.  See blog post for photos of this process.

How to Make the Topping

This doesn’t seem like much, but this is where the magic is.  Mix rice krispies, coconut, brown sugar, pecans, and melted butter and slowly toast them in the oven.  If you have a nut allergy, just leave out the nuts and make it up with extra krispies and coconut.

crumble topping

Together, you get sweet, crunchy, chewy, and crispy with so many great natural flavors and textures.  It might seem like a weird, or simple combination, but stick with me.  Half of this mixture gets spread on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

fried ice cream topping

Spread on your Ice Cream

softened ice creamIt’s important that your ice cream is very soft.  Not melted, but soft.  Think soft serve that comes out of a machine; that’s the perfect texture.

Softening the Ice Cream:  I’ve found it helps to tear off ice cream container and place the whole frozen block into a large bowl.  Use a sharp knife to cut it into several large chunks.  At this point you can leave it at room temperature for a while, or very carefully microwave at a low heat to gently soften, stirring in between.  The consistency you’re going for is soft serve ice cream.  It helps to stir it vigorously as it softens until it’s nice and smooth.  As you place your ice cream on your crisp mixture, try to plop it on as evenly as you can.

ice cream spreading in pan

Spreading the Ice Cream

If you’re not careful, you will mix up your bottom layer of crisp. With your ice cream very soft and smooth, just spoon large spoonfuls as evenly as possible in your 9×13 pan.  Avoid dumping the whole thing in there at once.  Stand next to your sink with hot water running and use a large metal spoon dipped in the hot water to spread ice cream.  The eat will help it glide over the ice cream smoothly and make the process much easier!  Continue dipping and spreading until it’s smooth.

Ice Cream bars in pan

Top your ice cream with the remaining crisp mixture.

crispy ice cream bars in pan

Once it’s frozen back up again, use your parchment or foil to lift the whole thing out of the pan and slice into squares.

sliced frozen ice cream bars

I like these in small bowls with a spoon or fork.  They are AMAZING! Especially after it’s softened just a little bit, like 5 minutes, and the ice cream just sort of melts in your mouth and the flavors from the caramelized, toasted coconut and nuts come through with an added crisp from the cereal.

Stacked Fried Ice Cream Bars

 

 

 

 

 

102 comments

  1. These look fabulous and I totally want to make them and drizzle your hot fudge sauce on them. Or strawberry… But I totally hate coconut. Can I just omit? Do I need to replace it with something for volume’s sake? Maybe mini chocolate chips? Can you tell I am so ready to make these?

  2. These look wonderful. One question–if you don’t press the “crust” mixture down, doesn’t most of it just fall of when you lift them out of the pan or tip them while eating? No all of it is touching the ice cream that acts as the glue.

  3. These look delicious! I’m thinking you could make them, then cut into individual servings and flash freeze them again, then store for individual enjoyment!

  4. Okay, seriously…..those look amazing! Quick question, when you say real butter do you mean salted or unsalted or doesn’t it matter? Thanks so much!! I LOVE NYC! I hope you get to see a show while you are there!

    1. Rebecca, we’ll always specify unsalted if that’s what we’re talking about, so you can always assume salted unless noted otherwise. For this recipe it probably doesn’t really matter, but I like salted because it helps bring out the sweetness!

  5. Just to be sure I’ve got it right, is it a half gallon of ice cream or a whole gallon? I think I might have to make these tonight!

  6. We have made a variation of this a lot, we called it fried ice cream, probably because of the cinnamon and brown sugar. It is so naughty to have around, especially a whole 9X13 of it! You have to make sure you serve all of it at a party or something, otherwise you might find yourself getting up in the night to sneak a treat!

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