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Say it with ice cream

These local shops have the 10 best ice cream cakes. Get ’em before they melt.

(Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Andrea Pyenson
June 6, 2010

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Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream & 20th Century Bowling The ice cream cakes at Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream & 20th Century Bowling are elaborate affairs. The chocolate and vanilla varieties are made with chocolate or yellow cake, two kinds of ice cream, fudge, and crushed cookies; some are decorated with drizzled chocolate and mini M&Ms. Then there’s the Banana Split cake, made with yellow cake and banana and strawberry ice creams. All of the cakes regularly sell out, so call ahead to claim one or to place a special order, which requires a week’s notice.

Prices range from $21.50 to $85, depending on type, size, and decorations. 1231 Hyde Park Avenue, Hyde Park, 617-364-5274, and Ron’s (only ice cream, open March through October), 559 High Street, Dedham, 781-326-8664; http://ronsicecream.com

Bedford Farms At this scoop shop, which has locations in Bedford and Concord, staffers hand-pack two flavors of ice cream, wedge fudge and candy between the layers, roll the whole thing in sprinkles, and top it with crushed cookies. Three popular flavors are always in stock: Oreo, M&M, and chocolate chip cookie. Also available: ice cream “pies” with graham cracker or Oreo crusts.

6-inch cake for $17, 8-inch cake for $32, 9-inch pies for $19. 18 North Road, Bedford, 781-275 6501, and 68 Thoreau Street, Concord, 978-341-0000; http://bedfordfarmsicecream.com

Cabot’s There’s a thin layer of cake in the ice cream cakes at Cabot’s in Newton, plus hand-packed ice cream and fudge or another frosting. Same with the tasty ice cream cupcakes. There are four or five different cakes always available in the case, but if you want to design your own, pick from its 16 or so fresh ice cream flavors.

6 cupcakes for $10, 6-inch cake for $18.99, 8-inch cake for $24.99. 743 Washington Street, Newton, 617-964-9200; http://cabots.com

Christina’s Ice Cream At this Inman Square institution, known for its uncommon flavors, custom cakes are the norm. (And, unlike many shops, they are available same day for a fee.) They are handmade with any two ice cream flavors and any filling. With choices like mango, adzuki bean, and coconut Butterfinger ice cream, you’re sure to come up with something more original than vanilla and hot fudge.

6-inch cake for $19.95, 8-inch cake for $24.95, 12-inch cake for $35. 1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-492-7021; http://christinasicecream.com

Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar The Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar, with locations in Sharon and Holbrook, combines two layers of ice cream with cake, fudge, and “crunchies” (crumbled cookies) in its hand-packed cakes. Four flavors are always in the case, one with three layers of ice cream. Special orders need to be placed a week before pickup.

6-inch cake for $19.99, 8-inch cake for $26.99. 407 Bay Road, Sharon, 781-784-7237, and 176 South Franklin Street, Holbrook, 781-963-1016; http://crescentridge.com

J.P. Licks The Cow Spot, with Dali-like splotches of chocolate fondant “melting” on top of vanilla ice cream frosting, is the newest of J.P. Licks’ extensive ice cream cake offerings. There are eight stock cakes on the local mini chain’s menu – most with a layer of delectable fudge, and several pretty enough for a dinner party – and every shop takes special orders, too.

Prices range from $9.99 to $31.99, depending on the size and special ingredients. 659 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, 617-524-6740, and other locations; http://jplicks.com

Lizzy’s Homemade Ice Cream Look for two-layer, cookie- or fudge-filled cakes in standard sizes at Lizzy’s three locations, and its made-to-order cakes are quite impressive – especially the 12- by 16-inch half-sheet cake that serves 50 (it’s a deal, too, at $79.95). Or go for the mud pie – the base is crushed Oreos, then there’s fudge, coffee ice cream, and – you guessed it – more fudge on top.

6-inch cake for $17.95, 8-inch cake for $24.95, 9-inch cake for $30.95, 10-inch cake for $37.95, mud pie for $14.95 > 367 Moody Street, Waltham, 781-893-6677; 1498 Highland Avenue, Needham, 781-455-1498; and 29 Church Street, Cambridge, 617-354-2911; http://lizzysicecream.com

Peaceful Meadows At these family-owned stands, hand-packed ice cream cakes with two flavors and one filling are frosted with vanilla or chocolate whipped cream and topped with nuts and cherries. You’ll always find a couple different cakes in stock; the shop specialty is Mocha Mud. If you do stop by to peruse the flavors and place a special cake order (one day’s notice is fine), get a 24-ounce frappe to tide you over.

8-inch cake for $16.95, 10-inch cake for $20.95, 12-inch cake for $25.95; add $1 per cake for chocolate whipped cream. 94 Bedford Street, Whitman, 781-447-3889; 109 West Grove Street, Middleborough, 508-947-1322, and 170 Water Street, Plymouth, 508-746-2362

Toscanini’s Most Toscanini’s ice cream cakes are made with cake, ice cream, chocolate ganache, and fudge. That’s because a company philosophy holds that you just can’t have too much chocolate – and it’s tough to argue with that. The shop usually has about 12 elegantly decorated chocolate-packed cakes in stock, or you can order a custom cake with three days’ notice.

8-inch cake for $28, 10-inch cake for $35. 889 Main Street, Cambridge, 617-491-5877; http://tosci.com

Rancatore’s These cakes are fairly elaborate, made with two layers of ice cream on a crushed-cookie base, fudge or butterscotch filling, and frosting, and decorated with whipped cream and even fudge-dipped waffle-cone pieces. For a simpler treat, try the ice cream sandwiches made fresh in either shop – Belmont or Lexington.

6-inch cake for $25, 9-inch cake for $38; ice cream sandwiches $2.50 or six for $14. 36 Leonard Street, Belmont, 617-489-5090, and 1752 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, 781-862-5090; http://rancs.com

The cold and the beautiful Unless you are going to serve your cake as soon as you get it home, make sure you have space for it in the freezer before you leave to pick it up.

Take your cake out of the freezer 20 minutes before serving (30 minutes for a large cake).

Slice with a heavy knife, like a chef’s knife. If the cake is hard to cut, dip the knife in hot water, but be sure to dry it before cutting the cake.

A 6-inch cake will serve six to eight people, an 8-inch cake serves 10 to 12 people, and a 10-inch serves up to 20.