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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Some Assembly Required

(Food Network)
Back when all I could do in the kitchen was bake cookies and order in Chinese, I knew I had it in me to do more.  I knew I could assemble.  Don't laugh.  Being able to assemble a crudite platter or a cheese platter is a useful skill.  It may not involve turning on the oven or frying something up in a pan but assembly does have it's place in cooking.

Last week I had guests for dinner and it was about 1,000 degrees outside.  Needless to say, the idea of turning the oven on the bake a cake was unappealing.  Enter the assembled dessert.

The epitome of the assembled dessert is an old fashioned ice box cake.  The classic icebox cake is made with plain chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream.   But leave it to Ina to "turn up the volume', to use her words, and turn the classic on it's ear.    Ina's recipe uses Tate's chocolate chip cookies, a delicacy on their own and absolutely insane in the  cake.  (By some stroke of luck, Tate's cookies are available at Whole Foods.)  The whipped cream in this version is mocha flavored and is a really nice contrast with the crispy chocolate chip cookies.  The best thing about this cake, and any icebox cake for that matter, is that it's the perfect summertime dessert because it requires no baking, just assembly.

I literally whipped this cake up the night before because it needs to sit in the refrigerator at least overnight to reach the peak of deliciousness.  When I served it the next evening my guests were duly impressed.  Little did they know that it took just minutes to assemble.  Like I said.  Being able to assemble is a useful cooking tool.

Recipe:  Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
(Ina Garten)


2 cups cold heavy cream
12 ounce Italian mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies, such as Tate's Bake Shop
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (I break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.


  1. I totally agree with you about bringing back the infamous Ice Box Cake, Nadine. Yours looks absolutely stunning!!!

    I love the way you "assembled" this post. Honestly, you have the most delicious blog. I just love to pop in!!!

  2. Hi Nadine,
    I just realized the pic may have come from the Food Network, duh, lol...I get a bit carried away sometimes.

    Thanks again for sharing, this recipe is perfect for National Coffee Month which happens to be August!!!

  3. I saw the real thing and it was more impressive than this picture (and tastier too).

    The Guest