02 June 2011

what's cooler than being cool? ice box cake

An everyday visit to drop off some books to my friend Victoria (I'm such a librarian) quickly went from a literary discussion to a chat about baking.  This is not uncommon as we are both avid bakers.  What started with her suggestion to bake some oatmeal cream pies (which I promise to do in the very near future) lead me to her tumblr and to this particular entry - ice box cake.  Until I came across this, I had completely forgotten about this simple summer confection.  My sister makes these every summer based on my grandma's "recipe" and every time she whips it up, I devour way too many slices.  Really, it's just layers of whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookies so actually using a recipe isn't necessary.  But when you toss that sucker in the fridge or, even better, the freezer so it almost turns into ice cream cake, hold on to your hat because this rich and retro dessert is out of this world!

Since it seems that summertime weather is finally here to stay, I figured it would only be appropriate to celebrate by making my own ice box cake.  And whadaya know... my gal Martha was thinking the same thing.  My quick daily browse through her site led to this variation on the standard layers of cream and cocoa.  Yum!  Lemon and honey?  Way more summery and certainly worth trying.  So, after work, I took a trip to the grocery store to pick up the few ingredients I'd need.  Three stores later and I still couldn't find any lemon wafers!  What the heck?  I did however, find orange wafer cookies.  We all know how much I enjoy putting my own twist on a recipe and honey seems to go well with any kind of citrus fruit so I thought to myself 'why not?'  Easy enough, a quick whip in the KitchenAid, some lopsided layering and there you have it - Honey Orange Ice Box Cake!

So mine definitely doesn't look as pretty as Martha's, or Victoria's for that matter, but sloppy is good and this cake was delicious!!!  The bitter zest on top was totally my own idea and I must say that it may just be what made the cake so wonderful.. The subtle sweetness of the wafers, the natural creamy sweetness of the honey whipped cream, and the bitter zest came together like a flavor explosion that really hit the spot on this beautiful breezy night.  

The best part is that since this cake is so easy and inexpensive to make, I can do a lot of flavor experiments over the summer.  I just have to find a better stoked grocery store with more wafer flavors.  I'm thinking berry lemon, chocolate cherry, ginger pear, the options are almost endless with layers of fruit and infusions!  Tastes of simple summer, all summer long.

honey orange ice box cake
8 oz mascarpone
4 c heavy cream
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp honey
2 small packs orange wafer cookies
1. In a cold bowl, whip mascarpone and heavy cream on a high speed until it starts to get stiff peaks.  Add in honey and continue mixing until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency.
2. Place a layer of 11 cookies in a circle on a 10" plate, it's okay if they overlap.  On top of that, carefully spread about 3/4 c of whipped cream evenly and without moving the cookies too much.  Put another layer of cookies followed by more whipped cream and continue layering until you're out of cookies and cream.
3. Top with a layer of freshly zested orange peel.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.  Freeze any leftovers (not that there will be any!)

p.s. This recipe made a whole lot of whipped cream.  Not that I'm complaining, because I'll always find a use for leftover whipped cream (especially since strawberry season is almost upon us,) but you may want to cut down on the amount you make.

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