When we first spoke about gluten free “Nabisco” graham crackers the other day, I had already made this no bake gluten free chocolate eclair cake. In fact I had this recipe in mind when I posted that recipe, since I wanted everyone to be able to no-bake along with us, whether or not you have a copy of Gluten Free Classic Snacks. So as I was saying, by then I had already made this cake three times, and with varying levels of success. It tends to be the simplest recipes that drive me to distraction. I guess there just isn’t anywhere for mistakes to hide? Or maybe that’s not it. I’m not sure. But don’t worry. I got it right. And then I got it right again, for good measure.
Since this is a food blog, we make the filling from scratch, instead of mixing boxed vanilla pudding with a tub of Cool Whip as the recipe sometimes goes. Now I bet Cool Whip is already gluten free, and as much as I used to absolutely adore the stuff, I haven’t bought a tub in years. It has too many chemicals, and I have too many recipes like stabilized whipped cream for snack cakes under my belt by now to justify it. Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that you feel the same way, since you’re reading a food blog and maybe you’ve visited here before and (hopefully) will again.
As the cake sets in the refrigerator, the graham crackers soften into the filling and all of the flavors mix and mingle perfectly. By the time you’re ready to serve this crowd-favorite no-bake cake, it tastes just like a chocolate eclair—but there’s enough for everyone without any fuss. And no-fuss? That’s what summer is for.
Chocolate Ganache 2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
*If you would like to make the whipped cream without the gelatin to stabilize it, simply omit the gelatin and water, and the related instructions. You will have to freeze the cake and serve it frozen, rather than refrigerated, as it will not set up properly otherwise.
Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with crisscrossed sheets of parchment paper and set it aside.
Make the instant vanilla pudding according to the recipe instructions, transfer it to a large bowl, place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour or until cool to the touch.
Make the stabilized whipped cream and combine with the pudding. Bloom the gelatin by placing it and the water in a small, heat-safe bowl, and stirring it gently to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature until the gelatin swells. Place the gelatin mixture in the microwave and melt at 60% power for 20 seconds until melted. Set the gelatin aside to cool briefly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the chilled cream and sugar, and whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the cooled gelatin, and beat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the cooled pudding from the refrigerator and peel off the plastic wrap. Whisk the pudding until smooth and loose with a handheld whisk. Add the stabilized whipped cream to the pudding and fold in the cream until it is fully incorporated. Set the pudding mixture aside.
Assemble the cake. Cover the bottom of the prepared pan with graham crackers, breaking them as necessary to evenly cover the surface. Top with half of the pudding and whipped cream mixture and spread it into an even layer. Place another layer of graham crackers on top of the pudding, top with the remaining pudding mixture and once again spread it into an even layer. Finish with a final layer of graham crackers.
Make the ganache and refrigerate the cake. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream until it just begins to simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size bowl, and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the cream to sit on the chocolate for about a minute, until the chocolate begins to melt, and mix until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the warm ganache over the top of the assembled cake, and gently spread it toward the edges of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours to allow the filling to set and the graham crackers to soften. Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes before removing the entire cake from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper and setting it on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, slice the cake into 9 or 12 equal pieces and serve chilled or frozen.