Some pledge their birthday cake allegiance to Fudgie the Whale, others to the glory of Funfetti.
But my yearly serving of nostalgia comes in the form of my mother's deceptively simple ice cream cake that I (and every other member of my very large extended family) have been devouring for decades. Yes, I'm an adult, and I still ask for it every year.
There are as many variations as there are ice cream flavors in the grocery freezer, but all you need is to commit this simple mantra to memory: Cookie. Ice cream. Whipped topping. Repeat.
Here's how you make Mom's original. Start with two boxes of Oreos, three quarts of ice cream (personal preference: mint chocolate chip), three eight-ounce containers of Cool Whip and a 13-x-9-inch baking pan.
Take the ice cream and Cool Whip out of the freezer so they start to soften, which makes them easier to spread. Meanwhile, smash the Oreos any way you like, and line the bottom of the pan with half the crumbles. Next, spread on a layer of ice cream, followed by a layer of Cool Whip. Repeat the layers. (Tip: Get your hands dirty. If you take out a frozen chunk of either the ice cream or Cool Whip and flatten it into a pancake, the layering will go even faster.)
Should everything become too melty in the process, just stick the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes, let everything harden a bit and continue your layers. And don't get too caught up in the amounts. A little short on ice cream? Add more whip. Fancy more crunch? Double up on crumble. Once you're done, put it back in the freezer for a few hours (or as long as you can wait). And there you go.
Now that you've mastered the basics, swap in whatever flavors you like. Try strawberry ice cream and sugar cookies for a take on strawberry shortcake, or go the cookie route with chocolate chip cookies and cookie dough ice cream.
The best part? This ice cream cake never fails to impress partygoers, who have no idea that the indulgent layered cake is just a stupidly simple construction of three grocery store staples.