Thursday, October 28, 2010

Icebox Cake

I love the simplicity of icebox cake. Chocolate cookies and whipped cream. Remember those commercials for Cool Whip, where they would make the chocolate chip cookie sandwiches with Cool Whip in the middle, sink their teeth in, and the Cool Whip would NEVER squeeze out the other side? Those made me so mad. Because seriously - we all know it would never work that way in real life.

Icebox cake became my treat of choice at Magnolia, and I don't think I've had it since I moved to Chicago. Not that I thought it was too complicated to make, because really - it's just cookies and whipped cream, but I guess I had been keeping it in the "treats best enjoyed when made by a professional baker" department in my brain. Where macarons and Napoleons currently reside. Here's some pictures of me with my good friend icebox cake circa 2008 (blonde hair, weird) at my friend Amy's apartment moments after Peter and I got engaged. Does life get any better?

So what triggered my decision to make icebox cake now was seeing Ina Garten on the Today Show a couple days ago making a chocolate chip cookie and mocha whipped cream version. It looked amazing, but I wanted the classic version. I hoped Smitten Kitchen would have a recipe for the perfect thin chocolate cookie that's needed for this cake, and of course she did.

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 1/4-inch thick (thinner if you can without the dough crumbling, closer to 1/8 of inch).

Place them one inch apart on the lined sheets. 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. They should crisp as they cool, if they stay very soft they need to be cooked a bit longer. These cookies may be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks or be frozen for up to two months.

Whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
about 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Put a metal bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer at least a half hour before you make the whipped cream. Beat the cream with a mixer on high speed for several minutes, until it reaches the right consistency. Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and mix on high speed just for a few seconds. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.

And now...time to make the cake. I actually cut the cookie recipe in half, and made half as much whipped cream, so I could get a mini cake. Lay the cookies out to form a rough circle on a plate of cake tray. I broke mine in half to get a small circle.

Spread an even layer of whipped cream on top with a rubber spatula or knife, and keep building with layers of cookies and whipped cream.

Keep building until you're out of cookies and whipped cream. I had a little extra whipped cream so I spread it around the sides of the cake. Totally optional. Crumble an extra cookie over the top, or use some chocolate shavings. Mine's a little lopsided...

Store in the refrigerator overnight to give cookies enough time to get soft and cake-like.

And that's it! The taste was pretty much identical to the icebox cake at Magnolia. That's all due to the cookie recipe. The cookies are really good on their own, great for making little sandwich cookies with some icing. But in my opinion, they're best in icebox cake.

1 comment:

  1. Oh HECK yeah! How did you live with that in your fridge overnight and not want to attack it immediately?