Des(s)ert Icebox Cake

In addition to a few cookie pops to celebrate The Fourth of July, I couldn't resist making this beautiful, lemony, creamy, scrumptious cake that I saw in my July/August issue of the Food Network Magazine. It doesn't need an oven (which a bonus when you live in the desert), as you could probably tell from the name, and can be made well ahead of time, so you can relax a bit and enjoy standing around the grill and socializing.

There are a lot of different steps to this recipe, but the best part is getting to dip your finger in the cream to make sure it's good of course, take a few nibbles of the berries, and cover your hands in sweet and sour lemon juice that makes my mouth pucker just at the thought of it.

Des{s}ert Lemon Berry Icebox Cake

  • 3 cups chopped strawberries
  • 4 cups mixed berries (I used blueberries and raspberries)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Zest of and juice of two lemons
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese (room temp.)
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the real stuff please)
  • 3 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 oz. lemon cookies (I used about 28 cookies)
  • 9" x 5" loaf pan

Macerating is first on the agenda. Take 1 cup of the chopped strawberries, and 1 cup of mixed berries.

Put in 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Isn't it pretty?

Then squeeze in 1/2 a lemon.

Mix around and pour into a medium bowl to sit for 30 minutes.

Get your blender or food processor out and puree one cup of mixed berries (no strawberries). It will smell lovely.

Now, if you've done your math right (cross your fingers), you should have 2 cups left of strawberries, check, and 2 cups left of mixed berries, check! Put them in a bowl and refrigerate for later.

To the mixer!

In it, place the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Blend on medium-high for about four minutes.

It will look a bit chunky and unappealing at first, but don't fear. By the time the four minutes is up, it will be creamy and perfect.

Take the heavy cream out of the fridge and pour 3 cups into the cream cheese mixture.

This needs to blend for a couple of minutes until slightly stiff peaks form, BUT do not turn the mixer on medium-high right away. If you do, your kitchen and you will be covered in the stuff. Start slow and as the cream incorporates, turn it up.

Keep and an eye on it.

When you can make a small peak in the cream, it's done. Remove half of it and place in a bowl.

Remember that berry mixture? It's time to use it. Pour it into the bowl that's been separated from the rest and fold it in.

Once it's all together, it should be a nice light pink color. Grab your loaf pan and line it with a piece of plastic wrap so that it runs over the edge (trust me, more is better).

Place 1 cup of the plain cream mixture on the bottom and spread it out. You can now cover the remaining cream and place it in the fridge for later. 

Back to business. Open up the cookies and try not to eat them all right away(I did sneak one, my bad). 

Make one layer of cookie on top of the cream.

Next, place 1 cup of the berry cream (you should have about 3 cups total) on top of the cookies, followed by half of the macerated berries.

Spread it out as evenly as possible. Repeat these steps by placing another layer of berry cream on top of the berries, followed by cookies, followed again by berry cream and then the last of the macerated berries.

At this point, you may be getting close to overflowing. Make sure the plastic is facing up, as the sweet liquid from the berries might try to sneakily get away.

Carefully spread on the last of the berry cream and then top it with cookies.  This will eventually be the bottom of the cake. Fold up the edges of the plastic wrap.

You'll probably need some more of that clingy stuff, just to be safe. I wrapped it up like crazy to avoid waking up to a red massacre of cake in the fridge in the morning.

Plop the cake in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight (oh hello cookie pops).

Soooo...who's going to lick the bowl?

Once you've let the cake take a good long nap in the fridge, you're ready for the next step. First, take out the remaining mixed berries (4 cups) and add the last 1 tablespoon of sugar. Mix it around and let it macerate for at least 30 minutes.

When your berries are done, take the cake out of the fridge. If you mummified your loaf pan, like I did, then you'll want to take off all of the excess plastic wrap. When all you're left with is the original plastic that is holding the cake, place a flat platter on top of the pan and flip, carefully. Carefully remove the pan and then peel off the plastic wrap.

Now, take the left-over cold whipped cream from the fridge, and cover the entire cake, using a trusty rubber spatula or if you have an icing spatula, that's even better. You can make it as smooth and perfect or as rustic and imperfect looking as you wish. I'm partial to the rustic look. 

Put it in the fridge until you're ready to serve, or you can get cracking right away.

Cover the top of the cake with as many berries as you want. You'll probably have a bunch left over. Personally, I think I could have gotten away with fewer berries, but leave some in a separate bowl and people can take more if they'd like.

Let the juices from the berries drip down the sides and be sure to let people see the cake before you cut into it. It's beautiful. I also took the Independence cookie pops out and put them in a small pitcher.

Use a big knife or cake cutter and then a backup knife to carefully move it from tray to plate.  

Look how delicious it looks and it smells just as good. I think the lemon juice and zest in the cream made such a difference.

This is a very filling dessert, so leave room after a grilled fiesta, as we did. You could also, instead of serving an entire slice, cut each slice in half with it still being plenty.

(Creepy, no?)

The Fourth of July was finished with a late night dip in the pool and of course, sparklers. Hope you all had a great Independence Day too!