“When you taste this dessert, you will taste your childhood.” These are the words Tony used to describe this Old-Fashioned Icebox Cake at a recent dinner event where we served this dessert, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
One bite of this cake immediately transports one back to a simpler time in life when things were easier, time moved slower and treats like cookies and cream were the big win of the day. Ah, the good old days.
Thankfully, food is a wonderful way to reconnect to our youth. This classic dessert had all our guests swooning, both from nostalgia and the sweet indulgence of cake. Even better, this Old-Fashioned Icebox Cake is easy to make — I have hardly ever had to do so little to create a cake that tastes, and looks, this delicious.
Icebox cakes originated around the time of World War I, and this simple dessert consists of chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream. In 1924, in response to the rising popularity of this dessert, the Nabisco company introduced their Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies with great success; however, this once-common cookie is becoming harder and harder to find in stores, and this is how I came to discover the magic of icebox cake.
Last winter, during Bernbaum’s moving hiatus, I was craving their amazing chocolate babka bread so much that I decided to replicate it at home. I searched online until I found a recipe from Food and Wine magazine that resembled their version. That recipe included a chocolate cookie crumb filling, and I was crushed to find that the Nabisco cookies were no longer on the market.
So, I started searching for a recipe to make the cookies from scratch and found two that I tested, and one that I loved, from the popular food blog smittenkitchen.com. My babka turned out beautifully, and as a bonus I’d fallen in love with a new cookie that was just begging me to play with it.
While researching these cookies, I learned about their use in icebox cakes — another new dessert for me. Thin, crispy and rich with chocolate, these cookies are perfect on their own, but when layered between heaps of whipped cream and refrigerated overnight, they transform into a tender, moist and utterly delicious chocolate cake. This is the ultimate cookies-and-cream experience.
For such a spectacular cookie, these chocolate wafers are surprisingly easy to make, and if you have a food processor, you can whip up a batch of chocolate cookie dough in about 10 minutes. The dough is rolled into a log about 12 to 14 inches long, depending on what size cookie you desire, and then wrapped in wax paper and refrigerated for at least an hour before slicing into thin cookies. The dough log will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week, and the cookies, once baked, can be stored at room temperature for at least two weeks or frozen for several months, so that you can have them on hand whenever you’re craving a little youthful indulgence.
We may not be able to recapture our youth, but we can revisit it with this week’s Old-Fashioned Icebox Cake and Chocolate Wafer Cookies.