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December 16, 2010

Recipe: Icebox Cake (aka Leaning Tower of NOM)


Hi, folks. It's SarahKK, your friendly food editor and reality TV blogger, ducking in with a guest post. We figured we'd try a little experiment today and share a recipe on the blog.

Early this summer, I stumbled across this recipe for Icebox Cake at Smitten Kitchen. In the midst of all that hot weather, it sounded like a perfect trifle of a dessert, plus, no oven required. There was only one catch. Even though the recipe only has five ingredients, I couldn't find one of them -- the Nabisco Chocolate Wafers. Well, that's not exactly true. I could find them in cases at Amazon, but I wasn't ready to make that kind of investment for something I hadn't even tried yet. I saw that Smitten had also come up with a recipe for making a reasonable facsimile of the wafers, but even that seemed like a lot of effort at the time.

I promptly forgot about the whole thing. But at some point during my obsession, I had mentioned to my friend (Michelle over at Consuming Interests) that I couldn't find those wafers anywhere. Then a few weeks ago, she said she had seen them at her local Safeway, and she picked some up for me. Right after that, I found them at Giant (in Columbia on Freetown Road) and bought another couple of boxes. So maybe the wafers are a seasonal thing? I still didn't have a good occasion to whip up a cake (and I was a little sugar-weary after all the cookie testing last week).

This week, though, it was time for the annual newsroom potluck. So last night, I set to making the cake, even though "cake" is kind of an overstatement for this particular recipe.

Here is the recipe, as mentioned before, from Smitten Kitchen:

Icebox Cake
Adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

3 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies [or, make your own!]
Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)

In a large bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.

On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center.

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.

Here's how it went down for me. First, the whipped cream:

That was simple enough, thanks to the mixer. Then I started layering the cookies and the cream.

As it turns out, I was being a little lackadaisical about how much whipped cream I was using between the layers and where I was placing the cookies, even though I thought I was being pretty precise.

And, uh, I wasn't being too careful about how even everything was, as you can see in the photo at the top of the entry. It was leaning a bit.

From certain angles, that wasn't too obvious:

But, uh, from others ... well ...

After the first piece was cut, the rest of it disappeared quickly at the potluck today, so no one seemed to mind whether it had been a perfect cylinder. It reminded me of the yummiest chunks in cookies and cream ice cream. Definitely really, really sweet, but that's never been a problem for me. Super simple, though, and a big hit.

I've got enough ingredients and another party to go to tomorrow, so I'm going to give this another whirl tonight, paying a little more attention while I'm making the layers. I'll report back.

UPDATE: The second time around, with more care paid to the placement of the cookies and the thickness of the layers of whipped cream, the results were more stable -- and prettier. See:


The recipe that has been mentioned in the comments, with the cake in a cylinder, is on the box for the wafers, but I really wanted to try to duplicate this version of it. It's totally doable!

(Photos by me)

Posted by Sarah Kickler Kelber at 9:32 PM | | Comments (5)


I remember seeing this as a child, but it was more of a cylinder-shaped cake. The cookies were upright, with cream between them.

This looks like a really sloppy Smith Island Cake.

This is one of my go-to desserts, and it is always a huge hit, but I think your assembly instructions were sure to result in disaster! This is one of the most beautiful desserts when you assemble it as a cylinder-- in fact, I even decorated one as a Buche Noel (Christmas Log), which was quite a hit at a friend's party a few years ago.

I find the easiest way is to make the whole pack of cookies into sandwiches by just taking a wafer, slathering the top with whipped cream, & then sticking another wafer on top. Then all you have to do is put a layer of whipped cream on top of one of the sandwiches, and stack another sandwich on top of that. I usually pile them up about 10 sandwiches high, and then start with my next stack. Then you just put a layer of whipped cream on the top of each stack, and then lie them on their sides and stick them together into one long cylinder of sandwiches. Don't worry if they aren't perfectly aligned; as you saw--they expand as they chill with the cream. All you have to do once the cylinder is assembled on its side is cover the top and exposed sides with more whipped cream. After it chills, cut it at a 45 degree angle, and it will look like you spent hours making a gazillion layer cake!

Hillary S., I'm confused. You make one giant cylinder log? How do you transport said log -- is your standard cake carrier a length of PVC pipe?

Or, do you place several 10-sandwich cylinders next to each other and then frost the sides and top so they look like a rough rectangle or square? Maybe I'm not so good at the spatial reasoning ...

I've only ever had this is a glass loaf pan with the wafers placed vertically next to each other (like this llllll )

Only the box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch made a bigger hit.

OK, this is weird. I had already committed to the fake name of "The Croque en Bouche Kid" when I discovered that Cinnamon Toast Crunch in French Canada is called "Croque Cannelle"

I am done for the day.

-- R. Gorelick

zut alors! the name for Cinnamon Toast Crunch in French Canada IS NOT "Croque Cannelle" -- it is Croc-en-Cannelle.

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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