Icebox Cake Confessions | The Geneva Convention: Icebox Cake Confessions

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Icebox Cake Confessions

About two years ago, the summer I lived in D.C., one of my roommates tuned into the Barefoot Contessa on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I joined in for the first time ever and watched her make a Mocha Icebox Cake. It was the beginning of a love affair not just with her show, but with cooking in general. I always remembered that cake, but it took me until last week to actually make it myself.

When I finally did, it should have gone horribly wrong. I'm still kind of astonished that it came off as well as it did. But because I did all kinds of inadvisable things when making this cake, I can assure you that it is extremely forgiving.

Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

If you decide to make this cake with only 9 hours notice, instead of 12 to 24, it will forgive you.
If you spend a good hour out of those 9 at the store getting the required Kahlua and mascarpone, it will forgive you.
If you are at a total loss for cookies, and use Pepperidge Farm Brussels instead of "thin, crisp chocolate chip cookies" it will forgive you.
If you only buy two packages of cookies for a cake that needs a minimum of 4, and have to send your boyfriend to the store for a third time that day in search of more, the cake will forgive you (though your boyfriend may not).
If, in an effort to make sure it hardens up sufficiently before you serve it, you stick it in the freezer for three hours and then the refrigerator for one more (during dinner), it will forgive you.
If, when you finally serve it, the cookies have not melded with the cream the way they should, and you have a kind of crunchy texture in a cake that should have been creamy, do you know what? The cake will forgive you, and no one else will care, because it's still cake.

Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

I hope that sets your mind at ease. Besides, in addition to being so forgiving, this cake tastes like an extra-chocolatey tiramisu, and who wouldn't want that? It's simple, rich, and perfectly refreshing on a warm summer evening.

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
(barely adapted from Ina Garten.)
-2 cups heavy cream
-12 oz mascarpone
-½ cup sugar
-¼ cup Kahlua
-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-25 oz thin, crisp, chocolate cookies*

Combine all the ingredients, apart from the cookies, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting very slowly (we had some splashes initially that caused us to resort to the dignified solution of putting a plastic bag over the mixer), whip them together until the mixture is uniform and forms stiff peaks.

In a springform pan (Ina uses 8 inches, but ours was more like 12), put down a layer of cookies, breaking them up and fitting them together so that as much of the bottom is covered as possible. How many cookies it takes to do this will determine how much cream you layer over them (i.e. if you use about ⅓ of the cookies, you should layer ⅓ of the cream on top, and will have 3 layers total). When you've figured this out, spread over an even layer of cream. Continue with another layer of cookies, another layer of cream, etc., ending with a layer of cream.

Ideally this cake will rest in the refrigerator overnight, or for an equivalent amount of time. Don't despair if you planned poorly, as I did -- you can serve it earlier, the texture just won't be as uniform. We kept it in the freezer for three or four hours in order to make sure it set pretty solidly, and then transferred it to the refrigerator as we started dinner, so it would be moderately thawed when we ate it. It worked surprisingly well! When you're ready to serve, run a knife between the cake and the edge of the pan, then release the spring. It isn't a transferable sort of cake, so we just kept it on the bottom of the springform and put the whole thing on a platter. Enjoy!

*Ina calls for chocolate chip cookies, but since I didn't make this cake in the Hamptons, I didn't have the opportunity to go to a fancy bakery to get them. I also briefly toyed with the idea of making the cookies myself, but since I was running low on time and my chocolate chip cookie recipe is wonderfully and indisputably cakey, not thin and crisp, James and I found ourselves in the packaged cookie aisle. I didn't see any chocolate chip cookies that seemed adequate, so instead we picked up some Brussels, a Pepperidge Farm variety -- essentially two thin wafers stuck together with dark chocolate. We found that 4 packages were enough to do 3 layers in a 12 inch pan, and would probably also do for 5 layers in an 8 inch, if you follow Ina's instructions. I would love to try this with Milanos at some point, as well. We arranged spare cookies on the top for decoration, but I don't have any pictures of that, because it was dark when we served it and I had no interested in waiting any longer to taste this thing.

1 comment:

  1. I will be trying this one the day after the event for which I am currently dieting. Actually because of the freezer time, it may be the day after the day after, but that will allow it to be for breakfast.


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