Wait ‘til you see the super charming recipe I have for you this week!! Sometimes, the most fun, adorable, and delightful things happen when we’re just playing around, and the evolution of this dessert was such a thing.
It was Tuesday, a week after the election, and it was one of those dark, cold, pouring rainy kinds of days. I was still feeling sad and quiet about the election, wanting nothing more than to curl up under a blanket with a book. I had studio chores to do, work for the dr deb practice, and some photo editing crying for my attention. More importantly, the gauge on the fridge was pointing in the direction of empty.
I thought about getting under an umbrella and toddling off to the market, but then I decided to play one of my favorite little games. It’s the Necessity Being the Invention of Mothers Game. Don’t we all get a little more creative when we have to? When we don’t really want to go out in the rain? When we’d rather play with porcelain than deal with those credit card machines that are always so persnickety?
I had some heavy cream leftover from a recent batch of Caramel Almond Ice Cream. And my mother gave me a box of graham crackers when she packed up to head to Florida for the winter. I gave my brain a little nudge and it took off in direction of a homey, old-fashioned, unglamorous, comforting dessert: icebox cake. Mom taught me about icebox cakes; there were a few versions in the family, so this seemed like a perfect use for the heirloom grahams.
Icebox cakes are related to trifles and charlottes. They can be made with any kind of cookie or biscuit and either pudding, or whipped cream. The basic concept has to do with sogginess. In a good way! Some people make them with fruit, which I imagine would be extremely lovely.
So, the resulting confection is not particularly photogenic, nor is it healthy in any way. But it is utterly wonderful. It’s rich without being over the top, dense and light at the same time, chocolatey in the milky way of good hot chocolate, sweet, but not cloying. And, it stores well, so if you don’t eat it all up right away, you can enjoy it at your leisure. Or make it to take to an event, a pot luck, or a holiday dinner. Perfect for, say, Thanksgiving!!!
Chocolate Icebox Cake
Vegans, you may use coconut or cashew cream and vegan graham crackers.
Serves 6 or so
You’ll need a standard 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
2 sleeves plain graham crackers
1 ½ cups heavy cream
3 tbs. cocoa powder
½ cup sugar (I use organic cane)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
Place the chocolate chips and ¼ cup of the cream in a soup/cereal bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds, until the cream is just hot. Let stand a couple of minutes and then stir well to make a smooth sauce.
Whip the remaining cream in a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer until soft peaks form. Add the cocoa, vanilla, and salt and whip to combine. Under no circumstances is it ok to eat all of this before you construct your cake. A little taste is permitted, but be warned, it is not easy to control the urge to go in with a huge spoon!
Put a couple of tablespoons full of the chocolate whipped cream into the bottom of the loaf pan, and cover with a single layer of grahams, breaking the crackers to fit. Top the crackers with a thin layer of whipped cream, and then a drizzle of chocolate sauce; spread each with an offset spatula.
Make layers in this fashion until you run out of everything; make sure you have a nice layer of cream topped with chocolate at the top. You’ll have a few crackers left over for munching.
Cover the loaf pan with foil or plastic wrap. Or do what I do. Enclose the whole thing in a plastic produce bag. Make sure the wrapping doesn’t touch and mess up the chocolate glaze. Refrigerate the icebox cake for at least 6 hours. Overnight or a couple of days are fine.
When you are ready to serve, cut slices and free the edges with a blunt, serrated bread knife and then use a spatula to lift out of the pan. The chocolate will crack, but that’s what we call rustic.