What Is an Icebox Cake?


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You may have forgotten this classic dessert existed

© Madeleinesteinbach/Dreamstime.com

Before modern technology like the refrigerator and freezer, many households had something called an icebox. It was a wooden box that was lined with tin or zinc, and a large block of ice was placed inside to keep food cold.

In 1927, General Electric released a “Monitor Top” refrigerator. In order to promote this new kitchen appliance, companies would send out useful freezer recipes. Thus, the "icebox cake" was born.

It probably helped that this cake didn’t require any oven baking — something that requires time and heats up the house on already-hot summer days. The two main ingredients to a basic icebox cake are fresh whipped cream and wafer cookies. When the creamy cake sets overnight, the crispy cookies are transformed into moist bits that resemble cake.

If this cake is one of those childhood desserts you forgot existed, now is the ideal time to make one. You can make them ahead of time in the morning before a barbecue or even the night before an afternoon brunch. If no-bake recipes are your go-to way to satisfy your sweet tooth, here are our best icebox, cheesecakes and other no-bake desserts to make this summer.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Classic Icebox Cake

Beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed until starting to thicken, about 1 minute. Raise mixer speed to medium-high beat until medium-to-stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes.

Line a 6-cup glass bowl with 2 long, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap. Place 1 cookie in the bottom of the bowl. Press 6 cookies onto plastic wrap in a circle around bottom cookie, leaving about 1/2 in. between bottom cookie and cookie circle.

Using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread about 1 cup whipped-cream mixture into the bottom of the bowl (the cream will secure the cookie circle in the bowl) smooth top. Top with a single layer of cookies to make a horizontal "cake layer," breaking cookies as needed to fill any gaps and create a solid layer. Repeat layering process with whipped-cream mixture and cookies until you are about 2 in. from the top of the bowl.

Break 4 cookies in half, and press the 8 halves onto plastic wrap around the upper edge of the bowl, about 1 in. apart, placing broken cookie sides flush with the bowl's rim cookies should be standing up vertically.

Resume layering with the whipped-cream mixture and the unbroken cookies until you reach the top of the bowl finish with a layer of whipped-cream mixture.

Fold plastic wrap overhang over cake to cover. Refrigerate until cake is set and cookies have softened, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

Remove plastic wrap on cake. Place a platter over cake, and flip bowl over to invert cake onto platter. Remove bowl carefully peel off plastic wrap from cake. Smooth any wrinkles in whipped cream with the back of a spoon, making sure not to get any on the cookies. Cake may be lightly wrapped in plastic and stored in refrigerator for up to 3 days.