Sweet, creamy, cold and filled with patriotic M&M cookies, this icebox cake is a super easy way to beat the heat this summer.
Sometimes you spend days working on a multi-level, tiered cake filled with fluffy chocolate buttercream covered in ganache and enrobed in chocolate ruffles.
Sometimes you look at the calendar and think, “Oh crap, I have to bring dessert to a get together tomorrow and I have swim lessons/tutoring/work/fill-in-the-blank all day.”. This was one of those times.
The icebox cake is an incredibly fast and endlessly variable dessert that you definitely need to add to your repertoire. If you’re not familiar, it originated as a recipe on the box of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, which are great to keep on hand for all sorts of things. You stack them slathered with whipped cream, then cover with more whipped cream and then put in the fridge, or icebox, overnight. The chocolate wafers absorb moisture from the whipped cream and it turns into a chilled, sliceable cake that displays beautifully when sliced on a 45 degree angle and you can see the bands of chocolate and cream.
Based off similar desserts like the Charlotte and trifle and referred to as Chocolate Ripple Log in Australia, it became popular after World War I, when convenience foods were starting to be more common. It also kicked off the trend of putting recipes on the back of the product box. Or so Wikipedia says and if it’s on the internet it must be true.
I have made the original, and also a ‘lite’ version a client requested with light CoolWhip and light Chips Ahoy Cookies (dipped in milk). You can really use any crisp cookie and any whipped type filling or softened ice cream.
Don’t be deterred by the seemingly long recipe. I’ve included a lot of details you won’t necessarily need. Short story: layer whipped cream and cookies. Chill. Serve.
Here is my scratch 4th of July Icebox Cake version using red and blue M&Ms cookies. The six year old was a trooper about finishing off the green, yellow, orange and brown ones.
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
- 1 ¼ c packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 1 ¾ cups all purposed flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup red and blue M&Ms
- Whipped Cream
- 2 cups whipping cream, chilled
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Put bowl and beater in fridge that you’re using for whipped cream.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour salt and soda just until mixed completely. Divide dough in half. Stir in M&Ms into one half. You will have half a batch of plain, and half with M&Ms.
- Drop by rounded tablespoons (I used a medium scoop) onto cookie sheet.
- Bake about 11 minutes or until golden brown at edges (you want them to be crispy).
- Transfer cookies to cooling rack.
- Put plain cookies in a ziplock bag and crush until you have crumbs. Mix in melted butter.
- When M&Ms cookies are completely cool, put all whipped cream ingredients into bowl of mixer. Using whisk attachment, whip on medium until small bubbles form around edges of cream. Increase to high and whip until you see lines staying in the cream from the whisk about 1 minute. Stop and check cream. You want it to hold a peak when you lift the whisk, but if you go too far, you’ll see tiny lumps as it’s turning into butter.
- If you are using a loaf pan, line with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, parchment, ANYTHING if you want to unmold it and serve slices. I tried everything to get it out of the pan, hot water, knife etc. and it was impossible without lining it. Spread some whipped cream completely covering bottom and then a single layer of cookies. Repeat with whipped cream and cookies being sure to finish with whipped cream slightly below the top of the pan. Cover top with cookie crumbs and refrigerate overnight or freeze until solid. Unmold onto plate and sprinkle top with remaining M&Ms.
- If you are using a pie pan, press buttered cookie crumbs into pan forming a crust on bottom and up sides. Spread a layer of shipped cream completely covering bottom and sides, then a single layer of cookies. Repeat layers finishing with whipped cream. Refrigerate overnight or freeze until solid. Sprinkle with M&Ms.