Kelsey’s Icebox Cake Essentials

The icebox cake is an iconic retro dessert that is perfect for the summer months. From June to August I avoid my oven at all costs, so the only way to make cake is by “baking” it in the refrigerator, rather than the oven. It’s easy to make and is always a favorite among family and friends. The ingredients are simple enough to have on hand and once you get the method down, the variations are endless. Every icebox cake is made up of some key components: essentially, cookies and cream. (What’s not to like?) I tend to think about it in layers.

First: the wafer cookies. These chocolate wafer cookies are a classic option and perfect for any icebox cake, but I’ve found that a variety of flavored wafer cookies are fun to use as well, like lemon, almond, chocolate-mint and ginger. I usually use two (6 to 9 ounce) boxes of cookies for one cake made in a 9-inch springform pan.

Second: whipped cream. Here you can keep it super simple, or have some fun. Fresh whipped cream is a must and it can be a great canvas for other flavors from extracts, sweeteners, or even peanut butter, coffee or fruit curd. I usually use 2 1/2 to 3 cups heavy whipping cream for one cake made in a 9-inch springform pan.

Third: flair. Here’s where you can really play with flavor, whether by layering in or garnishing with additional ingredients. Consider adding fresh fruit or chocolate shavings in between the layers or to the top of the icebox cake. 

The layer cake is delicious when prepared in its simplest form as cookies and cream and equally as delicious when a few creative liberties are taken and the ingredients are amped up a bit. To prove how easy it is to throw one of these cakes together I assembled an icebox cake with ingredients that I pulled straight from my pantry and refrigerator: an Almond Berry Icebox Cake.

First, my essential ingredients and one essential tool:

Here is the recipe for my Almond Berry Icebox Cake. (If these flavors don’t suit you, I’m also a big fan of my Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Icebox Cake!)

Almond Berry Icebox Cake

Yield: 8 servings

2 (6 oz.) boxes thin almond wafer cookies
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 (6 oz.) boxes thin almond wafer cookies
2 cups fresh mixed berries

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer, whisk the heavy cream, powdered sugar, almond extract and lemon zest until slightly stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a 9-inch springform pan, arrange a layer of cookies overlapping in a circle, covering the entire surface. Spread a layer of whipped cream over the cookies, making sure all of the cookies are covered. Repeat with the remaining cookies and whipped cream, making 5 layers total and finishing with a layer of whipped cream on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

As the cake sits overnight in the refrigerator, the whipped cream softens the cookies, so it will be easy to cut into slices the next day. When ready to serve, remove the sides of springform pan to reveal the cake’s layers. Garnish with fresh berries and any remaining cookie crumbs. Slice and enjoy!

*All photos by Kylie Whiting.

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Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes posts from Kelsey Nixon every Wednesday, and tune in to new episodes of Kelsey’s Essentials every Wednesday at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel. Find all the recipes from Kelsey’s Essentials here.