Two years ago I mentioned meeting a lovely woman named Megan (pronounced MEE-gan) on a bus ride to visit my parents. She introduced me to the wonderful world of icebox cakes. I had heard of them but didn’t really know what they were. Basically, you alternate layers of cookies with whipped cream or mousse and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight. The cream or mousse seeps into the cookies and softens them and voila! They become soft like cake. Apparently, icebox cakes were big in the 50s and I am noticing they are starting to make a huge comeback. I mean who doesn’t want to be able to make a gorgeous dessert without turning on the oven?
In addition to her White Chocolate Lavender Icebox Cake, she mentioned that ginger and lemon are also a great combination. Well, I’d like to confirm that yes, indeed they are. Another bonus of this cake is flexibility. It can range from fairly time consuming to the easiest cake you’ll ever make. You can decide depending on your personality and the availability of the ingredients in your area. You can either make the gluten-free ginger snaps from the recipe below or simply use store-bought ones. You can either make the Meyer lemon curd or use a jar of lemon curd you picked up on your last shopping trip.
No matter what you decide, I guarantee the cake will be amazing!
Icebox cakes, which were so popular in the 50s, are making a comeback. And no wonder! You get a sophisticated looking dessert without turning on the oven!
Adapted from Nancy Fuller’s Honey-Pear Icebox Trifle with Soft-and-Easy Ginger Snaps
Yield: about 4 dozen
3 3/4 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) butter, melted
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 + 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/4 + 2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
Note: These are cakey cookies so it may not be fair to call them “snaps.” However, they are perfect for an icebox cake.
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
5 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
[i]Adapted from Carla Hall'S Lemon-Ginger Icebox Cake
Adapted from The word on Cheese Culture’s Lemon-Ginger Icebox Cake[/i]
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, cold
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
35 2 1/2 to 3-inch wide ginger snap cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Tip: Remember the oven needs at least 20 minutes to preheat fully in spite of what the read out says.
- Melt the butter in either a saucepan over low heat or a microwave. Once melted, pour into the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Add the sugar to the bowl with the butter and using the paddle attachment, cream together on medium speed for 1 minute.
- Add the maple syrup, molasses, egg and egg yolk and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Shape the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls (that’s 3/4 ounce). Place the balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, 12 cookies per sheet.
- Flatten the balls with a large measuring cup to 2 1/2 to 3-inches in diameter. Tip: The cookies will not spread much so an inch in between them is fine.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through for even baking.
- Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on the sheets for 2 minutes. Move the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.
- Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium heatproof mixing bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Add 1/3 cup of juice and all the zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Tip: If you don't have enough juice, add some cold water until you have 1/3 cup.
- Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk slowly and constantly until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter one piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.
- Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a clean medium bowl. Let stand until cool. Tip: Use the back of a spoon to push it through the strainer if you need.
- Once cool, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, lemon juice and sugar on until it holds soft peaks.
- Gently fold in the mascarpone and 1 cup of the lemon curd. Tip: View a video How to Fold an Ingredient into your Batter.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch tip or a plastic storage bag with a 1/4-inch hole with the lemon cream. Tip: To learn to use a ziploc storage bag as a pastry bag, view How to Frost a Cupcake Without a Pastry Bag.
- Squeeze a dot of cream onto the center of a serving plate that is large enough to hold a 9-inch cake. Press one cookie onto the dot.
- Pipe a circle around the cookie. Surround the center cookie by pressing 6 more cookies onto the circle.
- Cover the layer with Lemon Cream stopping about 1/4-inch from the edge. Tip: Pipe the cream in a spiral moving from the center outward. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you aren’t frosting a cupcake!
- Place another layer of cookies staggering them with the first layer. Again, start with placing a cookie in the center and surrounding it with 6 more.
- Cover the layer with Lemon Cream and repeat until you have 5 layers.
- With an icing spatula, smooth out the Lemon Cream on the top layer. Decorate with the remaining lemon curd, if desired. Tip: To decorate, place the lemon curd in a plastic ziploc bag and snip a tiny bit off one corner. Pipe several thin circles of the lemon curd on the top of the cake. Drag a wooden skewer or toothpick perpendicularly through the lines to create a marble design.
- Refrigerate the cake overnight and serve cold.
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