High Country Baking: A cool summer treat – Chocolate Icebox Cake
Special to the Daily
I’m a devoted baker. But, occasionally, usually on a sizzling summer’s day when I can’t face a hot kitchen, I search for recipes that don’t require any time in the oven. It was on one of those quests, several years ago, that I created this Chocolate Icebox Cake. It’s a pretty thing that tastes as good as it looks, so it has a permanent home in my recipe collection.
A ring of store-bought ladyfingers enfolds a filling made of two tiers of silky chocolate separated by a layer of more ladyfingers and topped with sweetened whipped cream. Cool and smooth, with a rich, velvety texture and a mild chocolate taste, the cake has wide appeal. You can enhance it further with a variety of adornments; this one has a crown of crushed toffee candy bars, but I’ve also topped it with chocolate curls, grated chocolate, a chocolate ganache lattice, and/or fresh raspberries.
It is impressive enough to end a dinner party, but, fortunately, it’s easier to put together than it looks. It takes about 45 minutes of active time, but, don’t forget to give it at least five hours in the refrigerator before cutting and serving it.
Make in a 9 inch springform pan
3 (three) three-ounce packages of sponge-cake (soft) ladyfingers (about 60 in all)
1/2 (one half) cup of Kahlua, optional
2-3/4 (two and three-fourths) cups of heavy whipping cream, divided
4 (four) ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 (one fourth) cup of granulated sugar
4 (four) ounces of cream cheese (not non-fat), softened
1 (one) cup plus 2 (two) tablespoons of powdered sugar, divided
2-1/2 (two and a half) teaspoons of vanilla extract, divided
Crushed chocolate covered toffee bars (I use Almond Roca) or grated semisweet chocolate, optional
Chocolate sauce, optional
Step One: If you’re using the Kahlua, brush the flat side of the ladyfingers with it or quickly dip them in it. (You want to moisten them but not to the point that they get mushy; they should hold their shape) Line the sides and, then, the bottom of the springform pan with the ladyfingers (round side out), covering the pan completely. You may have to cut some of the ladyfingers to fill in odd-sized open spaces. Set this aside.
Step Two: Combine three-fourths cup of the heavy whipping cream, the chopped chocolate and the granulated sugar in a heavy saucepan. Place the pan over low heat and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth and totally blended. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Step Three: Make the filling: Cut the softened cream cheese into small pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl with one cup of the powdered sugar, and one teaspoon of the vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until the ingredients are smooth and blended. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat gently to combine. Clean and dry the beaters of your mixer. In another bowl, place the remaining two cups of the whipping cream, two tablespoons of powdered sugar, and the rest of the vanilla and beat until firm peaks form. Scoop half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and fold until blended and no streaks of chocolate or whipped cream are visible. Set aside the other half of the whipped cream.
Step Four: Spoon half of the chocolate filling into the ladyfinger-lined pan, leveling and smoothing it as you go. Cover this with a layer of ladyfingers (brushed or dipped into Kahlua, if you’re using it) and cover the ladyfingers with the rest of the chocolate filling, leveling and smoothing it once again. If you plan to decorate the top of the cake with piped whipped-cream rosettes, spoon about three-quarters of a cup of the whipped cream into a pastry bag that has been fitted with a star tip. Spread the rest of the whipped cream evenly over the chocolate filling and, then, pipe rosettes around the border of the cake. If you aren’t going to pipe a decorative edging, spread all of the whipped cream over the chocolate filling. Refrigerate the cake, covered, for at least five hours and up to two days. If you’re using them, mound the crushed toffee bars or grated chocolate in the cake’s center as you prepare to serve it. (If you add them earlier, they’ll soften in the refrigerator, so wait until close to serving time to do so.) When you are ready to present the dessert, run a knife around the inside of the pan, pressing against the sides, so you release the cake without disturbing its layers. Remove the pan sides and serve. Store lefovers in the fridge.
This recipe was inspired by one in Bon Appetit.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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