Is there any dessert more perfectly suited for summer than the icebox cake?
Cold, creamy, and no-bake, icebox cakes were originally made with Nabisco chocolate wafers and whipped cream. Since then, the classic cake has taken on many different variations, some equal in simplicity, others more decadent in design. And when it comes to bakers, everyone has an opinion about what constitutes the perfect icebox cake.
During the summer, I prefer to stick with plain graham crackers, whipped cream, and a little fruit. As much as I love chocolate, this has a lighter feel perfect for a hot summer’s day.
The Perfect Summer Icebox Cake
What You Need
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pounds strawberries (or fruit of your choice*), sliced, about 4 cups
25 to 30 graham crackers, from about 4 sleeves
2/3 cup chopped nuts or additional fruit, to garnish
* Bananas, chopped raspberries, kiwi, mango, and peaches are other great options.
Mixer or large whisk
9×13-in. baking dish
1. Combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt with the cream in the bowl of a mixer or large mixing bowl. Beat on low, then high, until the cream holds stiff peaks. You can do this with a whisk, too.
2. Use a spatula to evenly divide the cream into four sections.
3. Smear a small spoonful of cream on the bottom of the dish, then lay down a full layer of graham crackers on top, breaking some down the middle if necessary to form a full layer.
4. Lightly spread 1/4 of the cream on the crackers.
5. Lay about a third of the fruit (1 1/3 cups) on top of the cream.
6. Top with another full layer of crackers, breaking some if necessary to make a layer that fits snugly against the sides of the dish.
7. Top this second layer of crackers with another 1/4 of the cream and another third (1 1/3 cups) of fruit.
8. Add a third, full layer of graham crackers, then top with another quarter of the cream and the remaining fruit. You’ll now have three layers of graham crackers, cream, and fruit.
9. Add a fourth layer of crackers and the final quarter of the cream, spread or swirled gently.
10. Garnish the cake! Add chopped nuts or fruit on top.
11. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. The cake is ready when a knife inserted in the center goes in easily and comes out with soft crumbs. Keep any leftovers refrigerated, too.