One of my favorite things I made last summer was a chocolate mint ice box cake – it was kind of like a giant mint Oreo – only better, because it was enormous and sliceable, and didn’t require turning the oven on. This summer I was determined to make ice box cake again – if only because they’re one of the few desserts I can execute in the hellish weather we’ve been having this summer (I’m seriously over this ridiculous heat wave. Over. It).
Now, my original intention was to make a peaches and cream ice box cake. It’s one of those cute ideas that got into my head that I just couldn’t get rid of. I wanted to flavor the whipped cream with a peach syrup, which you make from cooking peaches in sugar and water and then draining off the syrup. But peach is actually a pretty subtle flavor, and the cream didn’t really take on enough flavor of the peaches when I whipped it with the syrup. Oh well. It still tasted nice – fluffy and sweet and, well, creamy.
The cookies which I made to accompany them, however, were much more successful. I adapted a basic icebox cookie recipe from Baking Illustrated, and added a little cardamom and ginger. They’re crisp and sweet and buttery on their own, and stacked with the cream they become soft and cake-like. The cardamom flavor comes through the most, but the cookies are also sweet and salty and get just a little bit of heat from the ginger. I think that they’d be lovely paired with peaches or another summer fruit – raspberries, strawberries, or apricots.
The only downside to making this ice box cake, as opposed to my chocolate mint version from last year, is that you will have to turn on your oven to make the cookies. So yes, that kind of defeats the purpose of making a no-bake dessert. But, um, that’s what air conditioning is for, right? At least, that’s what I tell myself these days.
Mini Cardamom and Cream Ice Box Cakes
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
Makes approximately 4 mini cakes (cookie recipe makes 45 2-inch ice box cookies)
Note – you will have some cookies left over. To avoid this, you can only slice and bake what you need, and then keep the dough log in the freezer for up to one month (just wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag). This is the great promise of ice box cookies – lovely homemade cookies are just a slice and a bake away. Or just make them all and have the extra cookies with your iced tea (I would say regular tea, but it’s much too hot for regular tea).
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
16 tbs unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
Whipped cream (recipe follows)
Whisk together flour, salt, ginger, and cardamom. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (1 to 1 1/2 minutes). Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until a dough forms and dry ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and form into a log 12 inches long and 2 inches thick. Roll the dough tightly in a piece of parchment paper and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap dough log and slice into 1/4 thick rounds with a very sharp knife. Place rounds on the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Bake about 14 minutes, until edges begin to brown, rotating the baking sheets 180 degrees at the halfway point. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
To assemble cakes, place on cookie on an individual serving plate. Pipe with approximately 1-2 tbs whipped cream, leaving a 1/8 inch border around the edge of each cookie. Place another cookie on top of the cream, and gently press down. Pipe top cookie with another 1-2 tbs whipped cream, and then stack another cookie on top. Repeat the piping/stacking process until you have a tower of 5 cookies. Pipe a small decorative dollop of cream on top. Repeat entire process with remaining cookies and cream, until you have 4 cakes.
Place cakes in the refrigerator and let sit for at least four hours, or up to overnight, before serving.
Makes about 2 cups whipped cream
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat cream until soft peak stage. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.