July 11, 2014

Sweet Cherry Ice Box Cake




Ingredients:
2 cups whole, pitted sweet cherries (about 1 lb/1 pint)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 (.25 oz) envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2-3 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1/2 box Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies (about 20)


Directions:
Place the cherries and sugar in a blender and pulse until smooth. Set aside. Place the gelatin in a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons cold water. Allow to sit 2 minutes.

Pour the cherry/sugar mixture into a small saucepan. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved fully and the mixture is just warm. Whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the cream, vanilla paste and bourbon (if using) in a large bowl and whisk using an electric or stand mixer with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold in the cherry mixture.

Line a loaf pan with foil parchment. Spoon in all but a 1/4 of the cherry mixture into the pan. Arrange the cookies vertically or horizontally in the pan, leaving about 1/4 inch space between each one. Spoon on remaining mixture. Cover the pan and freeze until set, at least 4 hours. Unmold onto a platter; slice and serve.




My thoughts:
Another day, another frozen cherry treat! I love, love, love ice box pies but until now had never had an ice box cake. No bake desserts are the best for hot July days! I had read about ice box cake and seen pictures of "cakes" made of wafers and whipped cream but it wasn't something we made growing up and no one has over offered me a slice. I knew the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies were a key ingredient and that they could be tricky to find. I don't normally buy cookies but I had a hankering for Oreos so I was in the cookie aisle and spied a box of the wafer cookies so I chucked them in the cart. Since we are just two people, I opted against making a giant cake and instead made one that fit into a loaf pan--it still yielded about 10 servings but I was able to unwrap it, then put in back in the pan and kept it in the freezer just slicing off a bit each night for nearly a week for dessert. You can do the same, just keep it tightly wrapped or use one of those loaf pans that comes with a (freezer-safe) lid. I pureed the cherries so every bite has a bit of cherry. Yum. The wafers soften and become positively cake-like (it reminded me a lot of the ice cream cakes I'd have at birthday parties in the '80s) and added a great not too sweet chocolate note-perfectly paired with sweet cherries. Just like their cousins the ice box pie (so named because they only needed the "ice box" to set up--no baking--and which became popular when home refrigeration became a reality for many people) this cake requires no baking at all and minimal effort. Exactly the kind of dessert I like on a hot July day.

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