I am a baker at heart – as soon as the fall hits, and maybe just a few weeks before when the weather starts to get just a few degrees cooler, I start breaking out my cookbooks and planning my baking adventures. Right now I live in this sweet little two story duplex, made of cement and brick with NO air conditioning. You can imagine the horror I face each summer just trying to get things cool from an everyday stand point. So, what’s a baker with no A/C to do when it’s 85+ degrees outside? Of course, “bake” an icebox cake! There are so many variations to this recipe. You can make them to fit your preferred fruit taste or caloric desire. Icebox cakes are basically layers of some type of cookie or cracker layered between delicious custard, chocolate, mousse, or whipped cream. When layered together, the cracker/cookie becomes soft but holds shape and adds this amazing cakey delicious-ness. The cake sets/ firms in the fridge and can be sliced and served at any brunch or dinner party. With this style of baking, you don’t have to worry about the house being cool enough when your guests arrive. The one I made below is layered with graham crackers, a vanilla ricotta custard, strawberries, and chocolate ganache.
Strawberry Chocolate Ganache Icebox Cake
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2.5 cups light ricotta cheese
1 ½ cup milk divided in the ½ cup and 1 cup
20 graham cracker squares
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 sliced strawberries
Double boiler set up
Parchment or foil
Bowls of various sizes
Sieve or cheese cloth
1. Making the custard: In the top bowl/pot of a double boiler whisk the egg yolks until they are a light yellow color, add in the sugar and continue to stir. Once the sugar is incorporated add 1 cup of milk and vanilla. Stir the mixture over the heat until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set this to the side to cool slightly. This recipe is just a basic custard and is also the base for many homemade ice cream.
2. Put the ricotta in a large bowl. Strain the custard through a sieve or cheese cloth to ensure there are no lumps. Mix the two together until they are fully incorporated together. Set to the side.
3. Line your loaf pan with foil or parchment paper; this will enable you to remove your icebox cake from the pan, more easily after it has set.
4. Making the ganache: In a smaller bowl, heat the last ½ cup of milk in the microwave to just under scolding. Usually this takes about 1 minute or less. After the milk has been heated place the chocolate chips in the bowl and allow them to milk in the hot milk. After almost a minute begin to stir the chocolate chips and milk until they have become a beautiful thick chocolaty ganache consistency.
5. Layer your icebox cake. Line your loaf pan with graham crackers along the bottom. (you can see I lined all my sides, because I really enjoy the graham cracker crust it makes) and stack the layers the way you like. I did chocolate, then strawberries then ricotta custard until I reached the top.
6. Cover the cake with foil and allow it to set in the fridge, until firm. You can cut directly into the loaf pan to slice or you can remove it by pulling up the foil on both sides.
Like I said before, you can layer your icebox cake with just about anything, from whipped topping to just ricotta, vanilla wafers, Ritz crackers, black berries or peanut butter.