Icebox Cake Makeover

IMG_2852I am a closet icebox cake eater.
I love them.

Do you remember them from years and years ago? You know, the ones that were made from chocolate wafer cookies stacked on their side, and then those stacks would be placed side by side to create a log…all with whipped cream in between them to act as a binder? Then the whole log of wafer cookies would be frosted in whipped cream, and then when sliced, you had stripes of chocolate and whipped cream. The chocolate cookie wafers would soften, so it was just like eating a rich fudge cake. Delicious.

Back in the day, it was a gorgeous dessert….and I still love it today. But because it’s not “pretty” or up to today’s culinary “snobbishness”, I’ve been a closet icebox cake eater, first of all, because I love it, and second, I personally don’t care what it looks like….

But today, with the standards of desserts set so high… it would be considered a train wreck at any fancy dinner party.

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Ok, maybe I exaggerate, maybe not a train wreck….but I’m keeping it real here…that old time dessert isn’t something that I’d bring to a fancy dinner party. I’m sorry, I just wouldn’t. Instead, I’d spend all of my time stressing over what to bring, stressing that it had to be the fanciest, and the prettiest dessert, because I’d want to please the hostess of the party. I’d want her to be proud to put it out on her table for all of her guests. Most likely, I would order something from a bakery.  Nope…not “most likely”… I would definitely would order from a bakery.

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But no more. I’ve decided to give that old fashioned icebox cake a makeover. One that I’d be proud to bring to a dinner party, and confident that the hostess would be pleased to serve to her guests.

And this one is so simple to throw together…it’s one of those desserts that you can throw together about two hours before the party…minimal time…minimal effort. Perfect for a hot summer’s day when you don’t feel like firing up the oven, or spending a fortune at a bakery!

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And…it’s delicious. The raspberries, whipped cream, and chocolate were just made for each other. Not fond of raspberries? Use any fruit that tickles your fancy! It is truly that versatile. Just make sure that the fruit that you choose can be sliced through easily!

I’ve shared this with my lovely friends at The Novice Gardener’s, Angie’s Fiesta Friday…. and with my lovely friends at Love in the Kitchen’s Tuesday’s Table. …. And I’m proud to say that it was my very first feature on Food gawker!

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Life is good, it’s a “Throwing together a dessert in less that an hour, but it looks like you slaved all day” kind of good!

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Icebox Cake
Serves  10 to 12 People

Just a quick note:  Keep in mind that this does need to be refrigerated for at least two to three hours (or more) before you serve it, so that the wafers have time to soften into a cake like texture.  I let this particular cake refrigerate for three hours before I couldn’t stand it any longer, and had to slice into it!

And honestly, use whatever type of fruit you’d like.  Just make sure that it’s a fruit soft enough to slice through, otherwise, you won’t get perfect slices.

Choosing the right plate is important. I’ll pick a couple of plates, and then place the cookies around the outer edge in a circle to see if they’ll all fit around the plate perfectly. If they do, then that’s the plate you want to use!

If you’re not familiar with the chocolate wafers, here is a photo of the box:

chocolate wafers2 boxes Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1 quart heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar (or more, depending on your desired sweetness)
3 pints fresh raspberries (or your favorite fruit)

Begin by whipping the heavy cream in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). Let it whip until it hits that point just before it starts to turn to butter. You don’t want it too soft, because you want it to be able to hold up the cookies and raspberries. Add the sugar and vanilla, and whip for another minute or so, until they’re fully combined. Don’t worry if the sugar isn’t dissolved at this point. It will continue to dissolve as the cream sits.

On your favorite plate or cake plate, spread a small amount of whipped cream over the plate. This will act as the glue to keep the base cookies in place. This is kind of important because the cake will fly off the plate the minute you try to carry it, and if you’re trying to make a grand entrance with it… let’s just say.. it will be grand alright, all over your floor!

Place the  cookies around the plate in a circle. You don’t want them to overlap. Fill in the middle section with about three or four cookies. It doesn’t matter if the cookies in the middle overlap. Place a second row of cookies on top of the first row.
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Using a pastry bag, and Ateco tip #824, begin making rosettes all around the top of the cookies. Gently place one pint of raspberries on top of the whipped cream. Make whipped cream rosettes on top of the raspberries. You want to be very gentle with this, so that each layer doesn’t get mashed down. You should be able to see each layer as separate layers.
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Repeat with another layer of cookies, whipped cream, raspberries, and whipped cream. And then finally repeat a third time, ending with the raspberries on top of the cake.
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Refrigerate for at least two to three hours, or overnight.
This is best when served cold. Keep any leftovers refrigerated. It will keep for a day or two in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Cranberry Pancakes

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is relaxing and delicious…

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My daughter Katie and her boyfriend Ryan inspired me to make the recipe that I’m about to share with you…. Cranberry pancakes…. And they gave me their blessing to post about them.

Every year my mom will make a double batch of her cranberry relish a couple of days before Thanksgiving. And then the day before Thanksgiving, she and I will start preparing the stuffing, bake the pies, etc… and we will sneak a spoonful of her cranberry relish here and there while we are cooking. On Thanksgiving, she will put it in a pretty dish for dinner, and then afterward, she will split the cranberry relish for the both of us and put my half in a jar to take home. I love to bring that jar home, it’s readily available for me to just take a spoon and eat right out of the jar when the mood strikes me, which is pretty much all day long!

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But last year…Katie and Ryan came along and announced that they love it too. And then… they took it one step further…

It was a few days after Thanksgiving last year when I received a text from Katie. She and Ryan were making pancakes for breakfast one morning, and they decided to add some cranberry relish to the batter.

Cranberry Pancakes?!
Genius.

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I didn’t get to taste them, but Katie talked about them all year long, and just how delicious they were. I could only imagine, because I love cranberry anything.

And then….

A couple of weeks ago, she informed my mom that she would like to take a jar of the cranberry relish home too, so that they could make the pancakes again.

Ok….What??
I mean, seriously?
You’re treading on my territory, Kathryn.
Yes, you’re my daughter, but I’M supposed to get that jar of cranberry relish….

My mom always comes to the rescue…

My parents made a five gallon bucket (I exaggerate, it was more like four batches..) of the relish to meet the needs of her one and only daughter, and her eldest granddaughter. I do have the recipe, which I’m about to share with you… but you know, nothing tastes as good as your mom’s cooking… and this relish is high up there in the food rankings of one Marcia Bucolo.

For the record…I would have given my jar to Katie without a second thought… but I think you already knew that..

I do believe that this is a common recipe, but this is the one that my mom has been making ever since I can remember, pretty much all of my life…

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The Cranberry Relish
1 – 12 oz package cranberries
1 large orange cut in wedges
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Blend cranberries in food processor till chopped. Add the orange wedges and process till finely chopped. Pour into a bowl and add sugar to your taste.
And then Marcia says: Add nuts and enjoy!

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The Pancakes
This recipe will make about 8 to 10 large pancakes.

When I asked Katie how they made them last year, she told me that they made a basic pancake recipe, and then added a spoonful to the top of the pancakes while they were cooking. I made them with my own pancake recipe for the first time this past Monday night. Of course, my laziness compelled me to stir the cranberry relish into the batter, rather than add it to the pancake while it was cooking. Yeah, it didn’t work. The pancakes were really dense rather than the light and fluffy texture that they usually have.

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So tonight, I tried them again. This time I followed Katie’s advice, and added a spoonful to the raw side of the pancake while they were cooking. They turned out so light and fluffy…absolutely perfect!

If you know me, then you’ll know that I started building on this recipe with a ton of last minute thoughts… While I was cooking the pancakes the other night, I started thinking that it would be really delicious to have cranberry syrup to pour over the pancakes. Better yet, wouldn’t it be really delicious to have cooked cranberries to pour over the pancakes? And…wouldn’t it be really lovely to have some orange butter to melt over the top? While we’re at it, let’s just add a little whipped cream to top it off.

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Honestly? The pancakes are perfect for any holiday breakfast!!

3 cups cake flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup vegetable oil

Vegetable oil for greasing pan

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk and vegetable oil just until the ingredients are moistened and blended. If you want really fluffy pancakes, don’t over mix the batter.

Grease the frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil, and heat over medium-low heat. It’s ready when a drop of water dances when splashed onto the pan. For each pancake, add 1/3 cup pancake batter to the pan. Sprinkle two teaspoons of the cranberry relish on the raw top of each pancake while it is cooking. When the top of the pancake begins to bubble, it’s ready to flip. Cook for about another minute and a half. Remove from the frying pan to a dish. Repeat until the batter is gone.

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The Cooked Cranberries
1 – 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the cranberries, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until thickened into a jam type consistency, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat, and pour into a bowl to cool. Serve this cranberry sauce cool, or while it’s still warm with the pancakes.

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The Orange Butter
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ tsp orange zest

In a small bowl, mix the butter and orange zest until well blended. Serve with the pancakes.

The Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk or with a hand mixer beat the heavy cream until peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla, and mix until blended. Serve a dollop with the pancakes!

Enjoy and Stay Safe this Holiday!!

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