Dessert, Recipes

Practically Recipe-less: Icebox Cake

A vintage classic for those days when you can’t bear to turn on the oven: crispy chocolate wafers become cake-like when layered with fresh whipped cream and left to sit in the fridge.

I know that I’ve been talking about how autumn is finally here so this cake is a bit behind the season (and I like to stay with seasonal trends), but it was so easy that I just had to post it.  I’m definitely keeping it in mind for next summer when it gets really hot again and I no longer feel comfortable turning the oven on.

This one is sort of pulled from the archives–I’m in Austria now and finding it difficult to cook and bake as I’m still getting used to the grocery stores and ingredient differences.  I made this cake a few weeks ago in the US after seeing various versions of it floating around cyberspace.  This one and this one in particular inspired me to give icebox cake a go.  I can’t stress how simple this is and how nicely it turns out.  As it requires making whipped cream, frosting wafer cookies, and sitting in the refrigerator, it isn’t necessarily the quickest cake recipe, but it is nonetheless hassle-free.

icebox cake03

Icebox cake, to me, is something very vintage or retro.  Even the name is retro.  No one has an “icebox” anymore, we all have refrigerators.  As you might already know, the recipes date back to the 1910s and 1920s and became quite popular as more and more food mixes and partially prepared foods became available–with recipes on the back.  I used the traditional Nabisco chocolate wafers to make mine, though Oreos, vanilla wafers, and graham crackers are all viable possibilities.

icebox cake cookies

icebox cake01

icebox cake02

If you are keeping this recipe at it’s most basic, you only need four ingredients: wafer cookies, milk, cream, and powdered sugar.  The only real piece of hardware you need is a mixer, though a low bowl or tupperware is also useful, as are a serving platter and an offset spatula.

I topped mine with chopped toasted hazelnuts, bringing the ingredient total to five.  A topping is completely optional, though I think it makes the cake look prettier.  Any kind of toasted nut would work well, as would sprinkles, cookie crumbs, mini chocolate chips…You can also frost the cake log after it has set, like this.

Icebox Cake

Serves 4-6


  • 1 box Nabisco chocolate wafers (I used 3/4 of the box)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk (start with 1/4 cup and pour more if needed)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 T powdered sugar (or more, if you like very sweet whipped cream)
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (or other topping)


Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream to make whipped cream.  Once the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and continue beating just until stiff peaks start to form.  This is really a visual/textural thing: you know what whipped cream is supposed to be, so just watch your bowl!

To make the log, dip each cookie briefly (very briefly!) in milk.  Then, using a butter knife or an offset spatula, spread some whipped cream on top.  Repeat, adding cookie #2 on top of the first one to make a sandwich.  Continue until the log is as long as you want it or you think you have the right amount of whipped cream left to cover the entire log.  Frost the log on all sides except for the bottom, sprinkle with hazelnuts or other topping, and pop in the fridge for two hours.

This isn’t the easiest cake to move from one platter to the other, so I suggest making it on the serving platter but sliding a piece of waxed paper in on either side of the cake while working.  Any dropped whipped cream will end up on the paper and not the platter, so it will be clean for serving!

When serving, slice on the diagonal.

Posted to Serendipity and Spice’s Manic Monday!

3 thoughts on “Practically Recipe-less: Icebox Cake”

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