Let’s think inside the box. With the first “summer” holiday fast approaching, I thought it was a good time to consider the delights of making icebox cakes.
These no-bake desserts have been around for decades, but the two I found for this column are just a little different. They are classics that have been tweaked to taste better, richer and/or different.
Not familiar with icebox cakes? Basically, you layer cookies/graham crackers in a bread or cake pan with something fluffy and moist, often flavored whipped cream. Add in a few more ingredients, then let the concoction sit in the fridge overnight. The cookies/crackers soften up with the moisture surrounding them, turning cakelike, and the flavors blend. They make a great presentation when you slice them, too, so guests are always impressed.
Traditional strawberry icebox cake becomes a strawberry-lemonade version in the recipe here with some lemon zest and juice, plus vanilla sandwich cookies soaked in lemonade — all of which adds the right amount of tartness to this sweet cake.
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Chocolate icebox cake goes gonzo with Death By Chocolate Icebox Cake, which includes not just a chocolate mousse layer over chocolate graham crackers, but a chocolate ganache as well.
Neither of these recipes is quick to make, but once pulled together, it’s into the cold and ready to eat the next day.
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Strawberry Lemonade Ice Box Cake
LEMON WHIPPED CREAM:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed to taste
15-ounce package vanilla sandwich cookies
1/2 cup lemonade
2 pints strawberries, sliced
Make the Lemon Whipped Cream: Chill the bowl and beaters of your mixer for 30 minutes in the freezer or fridge. Pour heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in the bowl and whip on medium high for about 2 minutes, until fluffy and thick. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste, and add more lemon juice as needed.
For the cake, begin by dipping about half of the cookies in lemonade and lining them up in the bottom of an 8-by-8 pan. Layer whipped cream and strawberries, then Oreos again, and whipped cream and strawberries. Finish with a sprinkling of strawberries on top. Crush the remaining Oreos and sprinkle on top.
Refrigerate overnight. Slice and serve cold.
Death By Chocolate Icebox Cake
14.4-ounce box of chocolate graham crackers
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup cocoa
8 ounces whipped topping, (or homemade whipped cream*)
11 ounces semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM AND TOPPINGS:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Mini chocolate chips
To make the chocolate mousse: Combine cream cheese, sugar and milk together in the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer. Mix until completely combined.
Add cocoa and mix until smooth. Fold in the cool whip.
To make the chocolate ganache: Place chocolate chips in a metal bowl.
Microwave the heavy cream until it starts to boil. Remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips. Cover bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes.
Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth.
To make the chocolate whipped cream: Add the heavy whipping cream, cocoa and powdered sugar to a large mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Putting it all together: Place a single layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Top graham crackers with half of the mousse mixture and spread evenly.
Spread half of the chocolate ganache on top of the mousse mixture and spread evenly.
Place another layer of graham crackers on top of the chocolate ganache.
Spread remaining mousse mixture on top of graham crackers.
Pour remaining ganache on top of mousse mixture and spread evenly.
Top ganache with one more layer of graham crackers.
Top cake with chocolate whipped cream and spread into an even layer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Finish cake off before serving with chocolate sauce and mini chocolate chips, if desired.
Yield: 15-18 slices.
*If making homemade whipped cream, use 1 1/4 cups whipping cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.