my first time living away from home {and mom's ice cream cake with bittersweet fudge and salted almond crust}

my voice was a little shaky as i left the message: "don't worry mom i'm safe," just about half past midnight.

i was 19, living in london. not only was it my first time living away from home, but my first time living outside the country.

i mean, it's london. they speak english 😐, and it's a thriving city, so it may seem a bit "cushy" but even so, it felt very far from home. 

we were out as a big group of students attending an outdoor theater rendition of "midsummer nights dream". the performance was awesome, and as i turned to gather my things from underneath my seat, i proceeded to follow one of my friends outside the theater. 

only come a few minutes later, i realized this wasn't my friend i was following. it was a stranger. 

my first day in the city and i already got lost. all i knew was that i was very far from where i needed to be. 

trying not to panic i remembered the advice my mom gave me, "if you get lost, act like you know where you're going." 

i was walking briskly down a dark alley accompanied by only a few fellow-play-goers.

feeling impressed to go up to what i thought was a couple in front of me, i bravely approached their side and introduced myself. 

"hi, i am so sorry to bother, but i just moved her from california and i'm completely lost." 

 that's my mom lighting the candles ;) 

that's my mom lighting the candles ;) 

"oh my dear!" the older women looped her arm through mine and said, "not to worry dear, we'll take care of you." 

so it wasn't a couple, it was a mother and son.

they walked me all the way to the tube, and the mother said, "you should probably take her all the way home dear," to her son. he kissed her on the cheek and i suddenly found myself with a new companion on the subway, taking time out of their night to take me home. 

it was far. 

we had to switch tube stops a few times and he told me where he was currently residing and it was really far from where i was living at the time. he went completely out of his way.

i was overcome with gratitude. 

One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others
— Lewis Carroll

after an hour of travel, we'd finally gotten to my neighborhood. 

"you should be careful" he said as we were walking the dark streets almost to my doorstep, "there's a serial killer out right now targeting young blonde students. haven't you read about that on the press?"  my heart started to beat a little faster as i thought, oh my gosh i'm going to die. this guy is going to kill me. 

but then i remembered the words of my mom. "trust your gut." 

my intuition (and i know some help from God) led me to this guy and his mom in the first place... and my gut was telling me he wasn't a bad guy. just trying to be nice and warn me to be more careful....but seriously WHO SAYS THAT? 

we chatted for a bit on my doorstep.

And then he proceeded to ask me out to the pub with his friends for the following evening. 😆

i thanked him kindly, hugged him, and declined the offer with a tease saying he was too old for me. (he was 32, i was 19. i dunno that just didn't sit with me at the time. agree or disagree?

my friends knew i was missing and came downstairs to watch me talk to this guy and they apologized a million times for losing me and said it wouldn't happen again and oh my gosh are you okay?! 

when i got inside, i walked upstairs i immediately called my mom, with the time difference she wasn't picking up so i left that message. i told her how i got really lost and how i was really scared but i had remembered what she said. 

for all of the life-saving wisdom you have given me and continue to give, i love you mom. you have shaped who i am more than anyone else in this world, and for that, i will always celebrate you. 

happy birthday. xo  

mom's ice cream cake with bittersweet fudge and salted almond crust

serves 10-12 

this cake. sigh, the salted crust, sweet cold ice cream and bitter fudge... it's seriously one of the best desserts i've ever had, completely worthy of your mom. ;) oh, and below is my all time favorite if i-believed-in-keeping-recipes-a-secret-fudge. i don't want to say you're welcome, but really, you're welcome. i mean that with love. ;) xo 

bakers note: i meant for the crust to be salty, and to me it's perfection with the ice cream and fudge, but if you'd like the crust less salty reduce salt to ½ tsp. also, pictured here is vanilla ice cream with chocolate - but for my mom, i made her a coconut + chocolate cake. the coconut in the crust isn't overwhelming so feel free to mix and match any flavor of ice cream you choose! 

special equipment: blender or food processor to make the crust OR you can just mix it all together in a bowl but you wont get quite the same blend/ fine texture of coconut with the almonds. 

for the crust:

1 ½ cups / 145g almond meal/almond flour
¼ cup / 55g muscovado or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup / 26g unsweetened shredded coconut
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, sliced into little cubes
4 pints of high quality ice cream, your choice (I KNOW it's a lot), softened for about 5-8 mins.

for the bittersweet fudge:

(this isn't a chewy fudge, it's soft melt in your mouth fudge)
1 ½ cups / 10 oz / 283g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup / 25g cocoa powder
¼ cup / 55g muscovado or dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup / 59ml buttermilk
1 cup / 250ml milk (unsweetened almond or grass fed cow's milk, fat % your choice)
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup

pre-heat your oven to 350° F / 180° C and grab a 10 inch / 25cm spring form pan. 

Mix all of the crust ingredients together in the food processor until it forms a wet sand. Smoosh crust in the bottom of your pan and bake for 10-13 mins. 

Cool, and set aside. (ppst, I pop mine in the freezer to cool it super quick!) 

Make the fudge by heating the milks with the all of the dry ingredients. Once it comes to a simmer and the sugar has melted, add your chocolate and stir in the brown rice syrup. 

Once your crust is completely cool, take out the pints of ice cream to soften. 

(I chose 3 pints of coconut, and 1 pint of chocolate for my mom's cake). 

Spread and smoosh the ice cream into the pan layering however you choose. 

(I put 3 pints of coconut ice cream topped with the chocolate pint to make a chocolate top). 

Depending on your freezer, freeze for 2-3 hours or until set. 

Take room temperature fudge, and gently it pool over the cake, spreading it slightly over the sides to get that drip affect. 

You can serve after topping with fudge, OR to create that frozen drip affect, put the cake back into the freezer after applying the fudge and let it freeze for an hour or so. 

Top with candles. ;) 

Let cake sit at least 5 minutes before serving, but no more than 10 mins. Dip your knife in hot water to ease the slicing.