When it comes to summer desserts, I’m always looking for something refreshing, effortless and appears like I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day (when it really came together in minutes). An even bigger incentive? Not turning on my oven. An icebox cake checks all of these boxes. In its simplest form, an icebox cake is whipped cream layered with chocolate wafer cookies. While chilling in the freezer, the cookies get tender and soft and the whipped cream firms up just right, like a light and airy ice cream. Beyond that, there are an infinite amount of combinations for this simple, crowd-pleasing dessert. Assemble it earlier in the day, either in a baking pan or freeform on a platter, then pull it out of the freezer when you are ready to slice and serve. It’s a phenomenal make-ahead dessert. Here, 5 of my favorite icebox cakes to make this summer.
Strawberry-Banana Icebox Cake
If this is your first venture into icebox cakes, this step-by-step tutorial from The Kitchn is an excellent place to start. Their recipe calls for minimal ingredients: whipped cream, vanilla, graham crackers and fruit. They use fresh berries and bananas here, but you can easily swap in whatever fruit you have on hand, such as sliced mango, raspberries or peaches.
Two-Ingredient Icebox Cake
Sometimes a dish is perfect in its simplest form. This classic recipe from Food52 uses just whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookies and its truly one of my favorites. The blog even has a clever tip on how to make this cake without a recipe: for every sleeve of chocolate Nabisco brand wafers, whip up 3 cups of heavy cream. This will give you the perfect cookie-to-cream ratio.
Blackberry Icebox Cake
This icebox cake studded with deep purple blackberries from Bon Appetit is assembled in a large mixing bowl, creating a dramatic domed shape. I love their smart use of a no-cook ingredient like blackberry jam in combination with the fresh, plump berries. Be sure to use a quality jam that you like since this dish relies on so few ingredients.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake
Leave it to Martha Stewart to make a simple, 4-ingredient dessert look so elegant! This recipe calls for folding creamy peanut butter into the whipped cream mixture. If you’re working around any allergies, you can easily swap in a smooth almond or cashew butter. I also like to layer salted and roasted chopped nuts with the cookies and whipped cream for added nutty crunch.
Lemony Layered Cheesecake
Mascarpone and store-bought lemon curd are folded into whipped cream for this decidedly Italian twist on an icebox cake from Food & Wine. The combination of the layered graham crackers and the rich mascarpone cheese also elicit the flavors of a cheesecake. The lemon curd and tart blueberries keep this cake tasting light and summery.