Anyone who has ever read one of my columns knows I am a huge fan of dessert. In fact, if given the choice, Iíll eat it first.
As the temperatures reach meltdown, my feelings lean less toward baking and more toward how cold I can make the sweet for the end of my meal.
I suggest we all head straight for the ice box cake. For those of us not born before the 1930s, an ice box was the storage unit that was the precursor to the refrigerator where ďbig blocks of iceĒ were delivered to the home and placed in the ďice boxĒ to keep food cold. Yep, this is how they did it in the olden days.
Ice box cake is a slight misnomer. Itís usually a dessert-like recipe that contains custard or curd or whipped cream layered between cake, graham crackers or cookies.
For expediency, most people usually opt for store-bought cookies or cakes for the key ingredient; like I said, I donít wanna cook when itís too hot. Sometimes, though, you do have to make the cake or cookie.
That being said, I typically make my own whipped cream, custard, curd or pudding, as Iím not a big fan of imitation flavors.
Most of the following recipes are flexible and forgiving when it comes to the ingredients. You have the luxury, or dare I say freedom, to interchange most of the ingredients and individualize your creations.
3 1/4 cups whipping cream, divided
2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 sleeves (about 19 ounces, or 24 to 28 whole crackers) graham crackers
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced thin (save 5 or 6 whole ones for garnish)
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip 3 cups of cream until they form medium peaks. Add 1/3 of the powdered sugar and the vanilla, and whip to stiff peaks.
Spread a dollop of the whipped cream on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Place six graham crackers on top of the whipped cream. Gently spread more whipped cream on top of the graham crackers. Place a layer of sliced strawberries on top.
Repeat this process to create three more layers (a total of four layers of graham crackers and three layers of strawberry slices). End with a layer of whipped cream.
To make the frosting, combine the chocolate, butter and 1/4 cup cream in a microwave bowl. Heat just until the chocolate and butter melt. Whisk slightly and then add the remaining powdered sugar. Whisk vigorously to remove any lumps. If there are lumps, microwave for 10 seconds and whisk again.
Drizzle the fudge frosting over the top. Refrigerate for at least four hours. Garnish with the whole berries. Serves 10 to 12.
1 small can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 graham cracker crust, ready-made is fine
2 to 3 cups whipped topping or whipped whipping cream
Mix everything together until smooth, and pour into pie crust. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
1 (9-inch) chocolate cookie pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (do not use low- or no-fat)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries (more for garnish if you like)
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
In a bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk. Beat or process until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the lemon juice and continue beating for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and then spoon the mixture into the prepared pie crust.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
When youíre ready to serve, sprinkle 1 pint of the berries over the top. Then in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until it has soft peaks. Add in the powdered sugar and remaining raspberries and beat until the mixture has stiff peaks.
Gently spread the raspberry whipped cream over the raspberries on the top of the pie. Slice and serve right away, garnishing each slice with additional raspberries.