Icebox Cake: The Most Chill Dessert You’ll Ever Make
Effortlessly win friends and influence people with icebox cake.
When badass baker and all around good-time gal, Jessie Sheehan, agreed to come make icebox cake on RS Cooking School, I got so excited. The woman literally wrote the book on Icebox Cakes. Her new book, The Vintage Baker, is the most charming collection of updated recipes, all inspired by the dozens of old time-y cookbook pamphlets she’d collected over the years. Her Coconut-Chocolate Icebox Cake is one of them.
If you’re new to icebox cakes, they can be summed up in just two words: soggy cookies. That’s right. An icebox cake is, at its most elemental, cookies covered in whipped cream, left to sog in the fridge overnight. Some marketing genius long ago must have decided “soggy cookie cake” just wouldn’t sell. But if rebranded Icebox Cake? It might have legs.
We made Jessie’s Coconut-Chocolate Icebox Cake, a sexed up, Almond Joy-inspired version of the thing. The principles are the same: cookies, whipped cream, layered in a loaf pan that's lined in plastic wrap. But this version has a few frills.
It starts with Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, a cookie so elusive in New York City, that I buy 6 boxes at a time. But it’s the cream that steals the show. The secret is coconut milk. Specifically, the “cream” that separates from the “milk” when the can is left to settle in the refrigerator overnight. You scoop the thick cream out and whip it with regularly old heavy cream until it’s just stiff and spreadable. Fold in some toasted coconut and a tiny splash of almond extract and, wow. I dare you not to eat it straight from the bowl with a spoon. I did.
Chatting with Jessie, we came up with a few other easy icebox cake ideas on the fly. Layer ginger thins with lemon curd and lemony whipped cream (cream whipped with a little lemon juice), for a zesty take. Sneak some sliced soft fruit—strawberries, bananas, cherries—between the layers. Pause now and reflect on how banana pudding is also an icebox cake, scooped, not sliced. Spread some jam or a quick fruit compote on the cookies before stacking. Wait—peanut butter would be a good idea here, too!
For the hands-down easiest version, layer graham crackers with lightly sweetened whipped cream (add a tick of vanilla). Set it (in the fridge) and forget it. Unmold tomorrow and top with rainbow sprinkles. Ask your kids to make this for you for your next birthday.
Besides being a great excuse to eat a lot of whipped cream in one sitting, icebox cakes are an easy, stress-free way to make dessert for a crowd. Make one today, eat it tomorrow, be the most popular hostess in town.