Last fall for my little sister’s birthday I baked a decadent flourless chocolate hazelnut cake. In order to make it I had to peel and grind fresh hazelnuts, dirty every mixing bowl I own, and resist the urge to scarf down the jar of nutella the recipe called for. In short, it was a royal pain in the butt.
I also had a few late-autumn apples going bad in my fridge that day, so I decided to throw together an apple pie for some variety. And, sure enough, the time-consuming labor of love chocolate cake was largely ignored by my family, who instead devoured the apple pie like it was their last meal on earth.
I like to pride myself on learning from my mistakes, so when I was asked to make dessert for my dad’s birthday luncheon on Sunday I kept it simple and made apple pie the star of the show. Only I have never been one to resist the urge to experiment, so I also took this as an opportunity to make a scaled-down version of the Chocolate Icebox Cake found on the Smitten Kitchen site.
Guess which one my family went nuts for? Yep, once again the “afterthought” recipe stole the show. Only this time around I was not bitter, since I was also overjoyed at discovering such an easy recipe. This cake requires no baking, and would therefore be perfect for those hot summer days when you want a decadent dessert but the thought of turning on the oven sounds about as appealing as climbing into a hot tub.
When I was making this recipe, I really wasn’t sure what the final outcome was going to be. I could tell what both the wafers and whipped cream tasted like individually, but didn’t know what a night together in the fridge would do for them. The result was better than I had even imagined. The cream softened up the wafers quite nicely and made them almost cakelike, with barely-there layers of sweet cold cream in the middle. It was like eating a classed-up version of an oreo; not distinctly chocolatey or overly sweet, but downright delicious.
Here is the recipe (I halved the ingredients when I made it, and used the method described below to create six layers instead of eleven).
Chocolate Icebox Cake:
3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (9-ounce) packages Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies
Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)
1) In a large bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
2) On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center.
3) Spread with 1/2 cup whipped cream, making a 7-inch circle. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making 11 layers of cookies and ending with a layer of cream (there will be a few cookies left over). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, dust top lightly with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.
(Image courtesy of Smitten Kitchen).