This classic recipe for icebox cake is made with gluten free homemade chocolate wafer cookies, and fresh whipped cream. The perfect summertime no bake cake!
What is an icebox cake?
A classic icebox cake is a no-bake cake made of thin, crispy chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream. Is it true that it's called a “ripple cake” in Australia? Let us know in the comments, friends from Oz!
It's so-named because it's made by layering the crispy cookies with fresh whipped cream then allowing them to set by chilling in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. During that time, the whipped cream dries out a bit as it sits uncovered, and the cookies sort of melt into the cream.
At the end, the cookies are no longer crisp, but they still hold their shape in all that delicious cream. There are so many ways to make an icebox cake. This way just happens to be my favorite.
Can't you just buy a package of gluten free cookies?
There are so many great packaged gluten free products available for purchase these days. I had assumed that I'd be able to post a recipe for easy gluten free chocolate wafer cookies, and then be able to recommend a packaged product as well. I was willing to buy as many brands as I could find, and celebrate the very best.
Imagine my disappointment when I realized that, no matter how much money I was willing to spend on the endeavor, there were no cookies to be found. I guess it shouldn't be that much of a surprise. There aren't even that many packaged brands of conventional chocolate wafer cookies. I think Nabisco might be it?
How do you make this icebox cake?
My favorite way to make an icebox cake is the method you see here. I place round chocolate cookies in a single flat layer of 7, cover the gaps in the cookies with 4 more, and top with a layer of whipped cream.
Then, I keep repeating the process until I have about 6 layers of cookies, 6 of whipped cream. You begin with cookies and end with whipped cream. Ending with whipped cream means that you can nestle some sliced (or whole) berries into that final layer. Chocolate shavings also work great.
How else can you make an icebox cake?
By posting this recipe, which is really more of a concept than an actual recipe, I aim to inspire you to have some fun this summer. Maybe you have fond memories of making icebox cakes as a child, or with your own children, and feel like those days are gone forever, now that you're gluten free.
I am here to remind you that, however you used to make icebox cakes, you can make them still. Maybe you layered a few vertical stacks of cookies and whipped cream, then lay them on their sides in a loaf pan with a layer of whipped cream below and above. Be sure to line the loaf pan with plastic wrap first.
Just chill the loaf overnight, then lift out the cake by the plastic wrap. Top with another layer of whipped cream and some berries. Slice into the cake, and you've got a “zebra cake.”
What's your favorite way to make an icebox cake? Let us know in the comments. If it's a family secret, we won't tell!
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: It might seem difficult to make a 3 ingredient recipe, one ingredient of which is whipped cream, dairy-free. But it isn't! You can replace the heavy whipping cream with whipped coconut cream. You'll need the cream from a can of full fat coconut milk.
Simply refrigerate the can of coconut milk overnight, then discard the liquid from the can (or reserve it for another use). Treat the coconut cream much the same as you do the heavy whipping cream. The chocolate wafer cookies can also be made dairy-free. Just take a look at that post for those instructions.
Egg-free: The chocolate wafer cookies contain an egg in the ingredient list, but since it's only one egg you can likely replace it with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).
Sugar: There's very little sugar in the whipped cream, and you can try replacing the granulated sugar in the chocolate cookies with a granulated sugar substitute. Again, see that post for a full explanation.
Classic Icebox Cake
3 cups (24 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 tablespoons (14 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 recipe gluten free chocolate wafer cookies
Sliced strawberries or other berries, for decorating (optional)
Place the heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer. Whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar, and continue to whip until the whipped cream holds stiff, glossy peaks. If you over whip the cream at all and it looks curdled, add a tablespoon more of chilled cream and whip until smooth.
On a large flat serving dish or cake plate, arrange 7 chocolate in a circular pattern, with one cookie in the center, making sure that the cookies are close enough that their sides touch. Place another 4 cookies on top, overlapping the other cookies to create a nearly opaque single layer of cookies. Place about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream on top of the first layer of cookies, and carefully smooth it out in a single, even layer. Top with another set of 7 cookies, staggering each cookie in the second layer so that it is positioned on top of half of each of two adjacent cookies in the layer below. Add another 4 cookies in a similar fashion to before. Repeat with layers of whipped cream, 7 and then 4 cookies, ending with a layer of whipped cream. You should have 6 layers of cookies and whipped cream each.
Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. When you’re ready to serve it, remove the cake from the refrigerator and top with the optional sliced strawberries. Slice and serve chilled.
Originally published on the blog in 2012 (!). Recipe slightly altered (increased amounts of ingredients for a more generous cake), photos and video new.