Original Post by: Baking Bites | Published on: 07/08/2016
Icebox cakes are an unusual style of cake that uses the refrigerator instead of the oven to bring all the elements of the cake together. The cakes are constructed by layering cookies with whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, custard and other similar components, then refrigerated until the cookies soften into a cake-like consistency and all the flavors of the dessert meld together. The cookies used are typically graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies. The result is a beautifully layered dessert that is very cake-like, but involves no baking at all.
Icebox cakes first became popular in the US in the 1920s and the recipe developed out of other chilled, layered desserts such as trifles. During that time period, most homes, especially in large cities, were equipped with iceboxes and the availability of iceboxes helped popularize this style of cake. In the 1930s and beyond, refrigerators replaced traditional iceboxes, but the name of the cake remained.
Icebox cakes are usually constructed in a baking dish, where the sides of the pan make it easy to layer together all the components, though the cakes can be assembled to be free-standing, as well. Like traditional cakes, they come in a wide variety of flavors and you can get very creative with the elements that you put in yours. These recipes will get you started.
Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake
30-oz whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
12-oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled (55-65% cacao)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
15 chocolate wafer cookies
- In a food processor, combine room temperature ricotta, melted chocolate, vanilla and honey. Whisk until mixture is very smooth, then scrape the sides and pulse several more times until everything is very well combined.
- Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
- Spread a 1-inch layer of ricotta mixture into the bottom of the pan.
- Spreading the ricotta mixture between cookies, make three stacks of 5 cookies each. Try to evenly space the cookies and put at least 1/4-inch of filling between cookies. Turn each stack sideways and arrange them horizontally in the pan.
- Press down firmly until the cookies almost reach the base of the pan. Fill in the gaps around the sides of the cookies with more ricotta mixture and spread any remaining ricotta on top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
- To serve, turn cake of of the pan and remove the parchment. Cut in thin slices with a sharp, warm knife and serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
To assemble the cake, you spread chocolate wafer cookies with the ricotta and chocolate mixture and stack them together, then lay the stacks into a loaf pan and surround them with more of the ricotta mixture. This is one of the easiest ways to put the cake together, and allows for a fast assembly. Serve the cake with chocolate shavings and whipped cream to lighten it up and highlight the chocolate even more.
This cake needs to be refrigerated, so plan to make it well in advance of when you want to serve it. It should chill at least overnight (12 hours) for the best results, and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 days. IF you want to keep it longer, try freezing the cake and defrosting it in the fridge a few hours before you want to serve it.
Recipe link: http://bakingbites.com/2012/09/chocolate-ricotta-icebox-cake/
Lemonade Icebox Cake
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional)
45 graham cracker squares
lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve
- In a medium saucepan, combine all of the sugar, cornstarch and salt and whisk to combine.
- In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together egg yolks, cream and milk. Pour into the saucepan with the sugar and whisk to combine.
- Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking continuously, and bring to a boil. When mixture boils, remove from heat immediately.
- Whisk in butter and lemon zest, stirring until the butter is completely incorporated. Whisk in lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon extract (if using) until mixture is very smooth.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and cool over an ice bath or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap, leaving 6-8 inches of plastic wrap extending over all sides of the pan.
- Place 9 graham cracker squares over the base of the pan. Top graham layer with 3/4 cup lemon custard and spread custard into a thin, even layer. Top with second layer of 9 graham cracker squares. Repeat with lemon custard and remaining graham crackers until you have four layers of custard and have used all of it. Top with a final layer of 9 graham crackers.
- Pull the plastic wrap tightly over the cake and freeze overnight.
- When ready to serve, lift the cake out and unwrap it on a serving platter. Allow it to soften for 5-10 minutes, then slice with a sharp knife. Top each piece with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.
The hint of honey and brown sugar from the graham crackers goes very well with the bright lemon filling, adding a little extra sweetness behind the fresh lemon flavor. For me, the whipped cream on top is a must-have when you are serving this, since it not only gives each slice a lovely finished look, but it helps to bind the elements of the cake together a little bit more. I like to eat the cake when it is still very cold and it has a firmer texture, but if you like your frozen desserts a little softer, you can let your cake sit out for 20-30 minutes before slicing it. Since this dessert must be stored in the freezer, I recommend slicing it up the first time that you take it out of the pan, then return all the extra slices to the freezer for later use. You can pop them into the pan or wrap them individually for single-servings later.
Recipe link: http://bakingbites.com/2014/06/lemonade-icebox-cake/
Red, White & Blue Berry Icebox
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
approx 14 Graham Crackers
whole strawberries and blueberries, for garnish/topping
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until softened. Blend in confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Add in heavy cream and beat at high speed until mixture is thick, smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Divide cream into three bowls. Add strawberries to one bowl, blueberries to a second bowl and leave the third bowl plain.
- Arrange a layer of graham crackers (about 4 1/2) in the bottom of an 8×8 or 9×9-inch square baking dish. Add the strawberry cream and spread it into an even layer on top of the graham crackers. Add a second layer of graham crackers on top of the strawberry cream, then add the blueberry cream and spread it into an even layer. Add final layer of graham crackers, followed by final layer of cream.
- Top the cake with whole blueberries and sliced strawberries. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight, until completely set.
The cake is reminiscent of strawberry shortcake, but with a slight tanginess from the cream cheese and a hint of honey from the graham crackers. It takes about 10 minutes to assemble, once your cream cheese has softened, and needs at least 3-4 hours to set up in the refrigerator. The cake is most easily assembled in a 9×9-inch baking pan, but you can also set it up on a large cake plate so that the sides are exposed and you can see the layers before slicing. As is the case with many cakes, the first slice may not be the prettiest. Cut one small “sacrifice” shot before serving the rest.
Recipe link: http://bakingbites.com/2016/07/red-white-blue-berry-icebox-cake/
Reference Article: http://bakingbites.com/2016/07/what-are-icebox-cakes/