A Cooler Confection: The Icebox Cake
"Keep cool" is one of my mantras given my sometimes fiery temperament. This phrase becomes doubly appropriate during the summer months, especially in the realm of home baking. Although other times of the year I relish making and eating rich, comforting desserts, I can't stomach always piping hot bread pudding and warm cookies during ninety-degree temperatures. Ice cream novelties, sherbet pops, milkshakes and other treats of the frozen variety certainly satisfy my sweet tooth, but I'm always game to expand my sugar fix options. And, as so often is the case, looking back allows me to go forward, which is why the icebox cake of my childhood is part of my summer dessert future.
Photo by koroshiya A very elegant icebox cake
Many people grew up eating icebox cakes (which often strongly resemble trifles) because of their British heritage. Not so much in my case, since the Irish didn't have cream. Or cake. Or fruit. Or anything besides oats and potatoes, actually. But moving on.
I most strongly associate the icebox cake with Memorial Day celebrations and neighborhood block parties -- that is to say, celebratory feasts where the majority of foodstuffs were made by other people (who perhaps were of British descent).
In the first few decades of the twentieth century, American manufacturers included recipes for these cool layered cakes in their packaging as a means of diversifying the ways to consume their cookies, wafers, sweet crackers, etc. Nabsico continues this campaign today, which is why a plethora of icebox cake recipes use Oreos of all flavors. This one from CookiesandCups is particularly decadent.
This June, I plan to re-create the icebox cake I most enjoyed as a sticky-fingered ten-year-old. Then and now I am usually drawn to chocolate-heavy cakes, but with regards to icebox cakes, it's the flavors of fruit, cream and vanilla that I find most appealing. I specifically remember having thirds of some blueberry-strawberry-Cool Whip concoction (must have been around July 4), so that's what's on the docket. I found a terrific recipe and easy instructions at NeverEnoughTime, which I will probably "test" several times and eat in its entirety before serving to outside parties.
Readers, any other kinds of icebox cakes I should try this summer? I know Zelko Bistro offers a lemon version that I hear is mighty refreshing...