Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Icebox Cake

A no-bake, icebox dessert, layered with a mix of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and pudding, sandwiched between sheets of graham crackers scattered with a mix of fresh berries, and topped with whipped cream.
A no-bake, icebox dessert, layered with a mix of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and pudding, sandwiched between sheets of graham crackers scattered with a mix of fresh berries, and topped with whipped cream.

Icebox Cake

Oh my goodness, do I love an icebox cake! They are so easy to throw together, making them great for those, who, like me, aren't especially high skilled bakers, they make as pretty a presentation as any layer cake does, and it doesn't hurt at all that they taste pretty darned good too.

Icebox desserts were probably popularized sometime between the 1930s to 40s, when mass production of modern, electric refrigerators brought those appliances to most home kitchens. The name, of course, came from the name of the previous generation of home refrigeration, iceboxes - actual non-electrical cold boxes that held large blocks of ice purchased from the iceman.

The blocks of ice were stored in a container on the top and pushed cold air down into the box to keep things cold. The name "icebox" stuck for a long time even with modern refrigerators that no longer required ice blocks. Frankly, I don't know how anybody kept anything cold in the heat and humidity of South Mississippi with an icebox. Could you imagine a life today without an electric refrigerator?

Vintage 1933 Frigidaire ad from The Saturday Evening Post.
Often made with vanilla wafers, ladyfingers, graham crackers or some other type of cookie, or even a variety of store bought cakes, icebox cakes like this are a no-bake option for a beautiful and tasty dessert, without having to turn on the oven. This makes them perfect for summertime and a great potluck dish to carry to that family reunion, dinner on the grounds or any other gathering of friends and family. Just keep it refrigerated as close to serving time as possible.

You'll notice that although I wrote the recipe for the traditional oblong 9 x 13-inch pan, I made it in a square dish. There's a very good reason for that! While my husband enjoys desserts like this, and he will, and did, eat it when I gave it too him on a plate after supper, always proclaiming them as delicious... they don't taunt him like they do me.

My sugars and carbs typically come from things like fruits, starchy veggies, and most especially, biscuits, yeast rolls and other breads, much more so than sweets, though I certainly enjoy a good dessert too! If there is a dessert like this in the house though, it calls out to me and I am compelled to eat it every time I see it. Like that Texas Sheet Cake. Can't pass by that without wanting just one more square. Or, Better Than Sex. Or, Pig Pickin' Cake. Those are three desserts that are certainly dangerous for me to have available because I will eat the whole blessed thing all by my little ole lonesome.

Since I'm using some fruit here too, I prepared the full filling recipe and set half of it aside to use for something else, like a mixed berry trifle that I can assemble into individual pint sized Mason jars. A little leftover or store-bought pound cake or angel food cake is really all you need to create them. Simply layer in cake, pudding mix and a little fruit and you have a simple no-brainer dessert that can be eaten right away, or is even better when left to settle in the fridge for an hour or two. Without the added fruit, you can usually fit the full filling recipe in the smaller pan.

Strawberry fans are always a pretty garnish for desserts like this and they are super easy to make!

The filling I do for my icebox cake is just a little bit different from the usual plain pudding one that you'll find across the net and I really think you'll like it. Oh... and by the way, this dessert can be made with a mix of lower sugar, sugar free, low fat and/or fat free products. The one pictured at the top sure was, and let me tell you - it was still pretty incredible tasting! Be sure to try out some of the other variations listed at the bottom of the recipe also, like this Pineapple Icebox Cake! I use the full filling recipe and make this one with vanilla wafers in a 8-inch square pan, which you can do with any of these versions. It's divine!

Here's how to make my icebox cakes.

Recipe: Icebox Cake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Inactive time: 4 hours
Total time: 4 hours 10 min

Yield: About 12 servings


For the Filling:
  • 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 small (4-1/2 serving size) instant vanilla or lemon pudding
  • 1 (8 ounce) tub of Cool Whip, divided
For the Cake:
  • 1 (14.4 ounce) box of graham crackers
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • Chocolate syrup, to garnish

Set aside several blueberries and strawberries for garnish. For the filling, cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and blend. In a mixer bowl, beat the milk and pudding on medium, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Fold into the cream cheese mixture along with 1/2 of the Cool Whip and gently blend. Set aside the remaining Cool Whip.

Add a thin layer of the pudding mixture to the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Add one layer of graham cracker planks on top, trimming to fit as needed. Spread half of the remaining pudding mixture on top of the graham crackers, top with half of the sliced strawberries and half of the blueberries.

Add another layer of graham crackers, the remaining pudding, and the remaining half of the strawberries and blueberries. Top with another layer of graham crackers and the reserved Cool Whip. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably, overnight, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Garnish with sliced strawberries and/or strawberry fan garnish, scatter blueberries on top and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Cook's Notes: Yes, it's absolutely okay to use lower sugar, sugar free, lower fat and/or fat free products, in fact everything in the dessert pictured, including the condensed milk, was made with a combination of them and it is still delicious!

Lemon Icebox Cake: Use lemon pudding and omit fruit. Add the juice of one lemon to the filling. Garnish with a little lemon zest before serving.

Banana Pudding Icebox Cake: Prepare as above, except layer in with two boxes vanilla wafers (like Nilla brand) instead of graham crackers and sliced bananas in place of the strawberries and blueberries. Garnish with crushed vanilla wafers and sliced banana instead of chocolate syrup, but only just before serving, if desired.

Banana Split Icebox Cake: Fold in one well-drained 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple with the pudding mixture. Prepare as above, except layer in sliced bananas in place of the blueberries.

Pineapple Nilla Wafer Cake: Prepare as above, except use a deep, 8 or 9-inch square dish, substitute one box vanilla wafers and fold in one (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained. Layer wafers and pudding in three layers ending with pudding. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, top with reserved Cool Whip and garnish with 1/2 cup coconut, 1/4 cup chopped pecans and maraschino cherries, if desired. Double cookies and pineapple for 9 x 13 inch pan.

Eclair Icebox Cake: Omit the fruit and prepare with layers of graham crackers and filling, using vanilla pudding. Top with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Banana Icebox Cake: Substitute sliced bananas for the fruit. Drizzle a thin layer of pudding mix on the bottom of pan, layer as above with graham crackers, pudding, bananas, chocolate sauce, graham crackers, pudding, bananas, chocolate. Top as above.

Peanut Butter Filling: Add one cup of creamy peanut butter to the pudding mixture, using vanilla pudding.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Icebox Cake: Prepare with chocolate pudding and Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies, or Nilla wafers with peanut butter filling above.

Toffee Icebox Cake: Prepare as above, except substitute chocolate graham crackers and chocolate pudding, omit fruit and garnish with two English toffee bars (like Heath candy bars), crushed.

Apple Cinnamon Icebox Cake: Prepare as above, except substitute cinnamon graham crackers and homemade or canned apple pie filling, coarsely chopped.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on July 10, 2013
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