One of our favorite cakes in Mimi's Kitchen is an icebox cake. It is a simple dessert with endless flavor combinations. Made with crisp cookies and whipped cream flavored any way you want, this cake takes about 10 minutes to assemble, and the best part is that it has to be made the day before serving. Overnight, the cookies soften in between the layers of whipped cream to create a soft, cake-like texture surrounded by the cream that firms up to create a "frosting" of sorts. An easy 2-ingredient cake that is mandatory to make ahead- what's not to love? We have made this so many times that each of us has our own favorite. I stick with the classic chocolate wafer and vanilla cream, Mr. Mimi loves chocolate with mint, and Boy Mimi would eat an entire coconut version all by himself.
To get all those even layers, you need very thin wafer cookies. You can definitely buy any thin crispy cookie, (we have used a box of ginger thins from Ikea before) but I like to use Alice Medrich's recipe for chocolate wafers. The recipe makes a lot of cookies and they have great chocolate taste. Her instructions call for rolling it into a log and slicing into thin cookies, but that leaves one side a little flat, so last time I rolled it between layers of plastic wrap and used a circle cutter so that all the cookies were an even thickness and size with a perfectly round edge.
Whether you make or buy cookies, this cake couldn't be easier to make and with all the possibilities for flavors, this cake will remain a family favorite for a very long time.
Adapted from Alice Medrich
Makes 50 to 60 1 3/4-inch round wafers if you roll into a log and slice them. I rolled the dough 1/8 inch thick between two pieces of plastic wrap and got about 95 cookies.
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2.4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of food processor and pulse several times to mix thoroughly. Cut the butter into about 12 chunks and add them to the bowl. Pulse several times. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small cup. With the processor running, add the milk mixture and continue to process until the mixture clumps around the blade or the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a large bowl or a cutting board and knead a few times to make sure it is evenly blended.
**Form the dough into a log about 14 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in wax paper or foil and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour, or until needed.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the log of dough into slices a scant 1/4-inch thick (I went thinner, closer to 1/8 of inch. If you’re trying to emulate the store-bought wafers, slice as thin as you can, and watch the baking time carefully, as it might be less) and place them one inch apart on the lined sheets (cookies will spread). Bake, rotating the baking sheet from top to bottom and back to front about halfway through baking, for a total of 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies will puff up and deflate; they are done about 1 1/2 minutes after they deflate.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets on racks, or slide the parchment onto racks to cool completely. These cookies may be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks or be frozen for up to two months.** I divided the dough into 4 portions, chilled it and rolled each portion between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8 thick and cut them with a 1 3/4 inch round cutter. When the cookies were baked they were about 2 inches in diameter.
Ice Box Cake or Cakelettes
garnish- I used a Bailey's ganache on these small ones, but I usually do cocoa or chocolate curls
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
Add all ingredients to a bowl and whip to firm peaks.
1/2 cup cream
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream to boiling, pour over chopped chocolate. Let set for a minute. Gently stir until chocolate is completely melted and ganache is smooth. Stir in Bailey's and cool to almost room temperature. You can refrigerate this until you need it. If it is cold or too thick to pour, heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. It needs to be warm enough to be able to be poured over the cake, but if it is too hot it will melt the whipped cream so heat in small increments and pour carefully.
For one large cake, cover the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with an even layer of cookies. I usually break a few into halves or pieces to fill in gaps, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Cover the cookies with an even layer of whipped cream. Continue layering cookies and cream, until all of the cream is used up, ending with cream on top. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours. To serve, release sides of pan, garnish as desired.
For cakelettes:I used a piping bag with a 3/8 round tip to pipe even layers of whipped cream between the cookies. Once I had the cookie stacks the size I wanted (5 cookies high), I covered the sides and top with whipped cream and chilled them for 24 hours. Before serving, I drizzled them with Bailey's ganache.