Monday, May 17, 2010

Buster Bar

A few years ago, I worked in Kalamazoo, Michigan - first as an intern, then a year later as a full-time staffer. Journalists are known for their affinity for food, and the Gazette newsroom was no exception.

One favorite treat was made by one of my friends, Pam. Pam worked with me in sports, and for special occasions, she would make her heralded treat: Buster Bar.

The ice cream-based cake took preparation, it took ideal conditions (basically, it has to be kept cold and can't sit out for long periods of time), and it took a roomful of hungry people. This dessert is rich, and we all knew it was reserved for birthdays, retirements and other special times.

So we savored it. (And harassed her to make it more often, but that's beside the point.)

I haven't had Buster Bar since I left that paper in 2005. That is a long time to go without Buster Bar, people. Especially when you keep in touch with people who still get treated to Buster Bar despite the fact that Pam retired last fall and they tell you about it.

When I was able to travel home last month and realized I'd be there for my dad's birthday, I started brainstorming what to make for him. Over the last few years, my family has gotten hooked on Dairy Queen ice cream cakes. When I started with that concept and tried to think what I could make, Buster Bar quickly came to mind. I looked on and found a winner! We were in Buster Bar Business.

My little brother helped me make our dad's birthday cake. We tried to do it inconspicuously. (For example, when we were working on the chocolate sauce, Doug told Dad it was Mexican Tomato Basil Soup. I don't think my dad really cared or noticed, but we tried to hide our project.)

The Buster Bar came out well and brought back fond memories of my time eating in Michigan. It's tricky to get the ice cream out of the container and flattened on top of the cookie crust, but not impossible at all. We used Edy's ice cream and cut open the side of the container, allowing us to slice up chunks of ice cream instead of scooping. The only other minor issue I had was waiting for the chocolate sauce to cool. I have a slightly impatient personality and again, we were trying desperately to hide the uh, Mexican Tomato Basil Soup from my dad. I think by rushing it a bit and pouring slightly warm sauce on the ice cream made the top-most layer a little bit sticky, almost carmelized, and allowed it to soak in to the ice cream layer a bit instead of keeping the layers extremely separate.

Appearances and texture aside, it was still delicious. My dad loved it and it was a relatively easy dessert to make.


1 pound chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups dry-roasted peanuts


1. Combined crushed cookies and melted margarine and press into a 9x13 inch dish. Chill 1 hour in refrigerator.

Tada! Mexican Tomato Basil Soup!

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine confectioners' sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup margarine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool.

3. Slice vanilla ice cream into 3/4 inch slices, and place them in a single layer over the chilled crust. Smooth the seams. Sprinkle the peanuts over the ice cream. Top with the cooled chocolate sauce. Cover and freeze 8 hours or overnight.

Source:, inspired by Pam


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