Icebox Cake

When my husband was a little boy, his late grandmother used to make him this same icebox cake on his birthday each year. She was a great cook but not an accomplished baker, and this simple dessert was one of her specialties. The dish has an interesting history, as well: Nabisco started making its Famous Chocolate Wafers around 1924, when simple ingredients like butter and sugar were often a luxury. A few years later, Nabisco started advertising a dessert made by layering the wafers with whipped cream and refrigerating it overnight; by 1930, the recipe appeared on every wafer tin.

The dessert is now more popularly known as an icebox cake, as you simply layer the wafer cookies and whipped cream into a large loaf pan and then refrigerate it until the cookies soften and the cream stiffens. And instead of leaning on Nabisco, the following recipe includes how to make dark chocolate wafer cookies from scratch. (The cookie recipe yields two logs of dough; you only need one for the cake.)

Dark Chocolate Icebox Cake

Serves | 8 to 10 |

Dark Chocolate Wafer Cookies

  • 1 cup room temperature butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp whole milk
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

| Preparation – Cookies | In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and salt on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and milk, mixing well. Scrape sides of bowl with a spatula.

In a separate bowl, add remaining dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture, in 3 additions, to wet mixture, with mixer on low speed; mix just until combined. On parchment paper, divide dough in half and form into 2 logs measuring 2-by-12-inches. Wrap logs tightly in parchment paper and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F; line 3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice 1 log into 48 thin slices. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets and bake until crispy, approximately 12 minutes. Allow to cool before assembling cake.

| Preparation – Whipped Cream | In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine all ingredients and whip until firm peaks form. Refrigerate.

| Assembly | Grease a 5-by-9½-inch loaf pan and line with plastic wrap, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Spoon a thin layer of whipped cream over bottom and sides of pan. Line pan with layer of cookies, lengthwise. Spread a layer of whipped cream over cookies and repeat until pan is full. (Reserve some whipped cream and cookies.)

Spread a layer of whipped cream over top to seal, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 day. Remove plastic wrap on top. Use the bottom layer of plastic to pull cake from pan; invert onto a platter. Spread reserved whipped cream and cookie crumbles on top. Slice using a knife warmed under hot water and serve.

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Christy is the owner of Pint Size Bakery in St. Louis and calls herself the baker of all things good and evil.

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