Monday, April 27, 2015

Icebox Cake Makes the Perfect Cookies and Cream Birthday Cake

This birthday cake is made up of several 'icebox cake' stacks and then decorated in a whipped cream cheese icing. The best part is that it is a no-bake cake!  No oven is required and no cake pan dishes to wash - which means you can make the whole thing in 30 minutes or less.

So what is an icebox cake or stack?  It is a cake made of several wafer cookies layered with whipped cream between each to form a log.  It can be stacked up several wafers high, or the stack can be laying on its side to form a log.  Learn more about it here.

For Americans, Icebox Cakes are made with Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers. But in my region of Canada, we use Mr. Christie's Chocolate Wafers to make this cake, which can nearly always be found in the cookie section of the grocery store.

The beauty of these wafer-and-whipped-cream cakes is that the cookies soften in the whipped cream so you truly get a delicious concoction that is easy to slice and has a cookies and cream flavour.

Here is how to make it...

Recipe: Cookies and Cream Cake made with Icebox Cake Stacks

 Time: This no-bake cake takes about 30 minutes and
no oven time! You must, however, wait 6 hours or overnight before serving it to let the cookies soften - so make one day in advance or first thing in the morning the day of your party.

Make lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream:

You need...
  • 3 cups of whipped cream.
  • 3 tbsps. of agave, coconut sugar or icing sugar (I used organic icing sugar)
  • vanilla bean scrapings or real vanilla extract.

1. Whip the 3 cups of whipped cream.

2. Add the sugar and vanilla bean or real vanilla extract (I used a little of both) just before the whipped cream starts to form peaks.  Stop beating when light peaks form and it is still shiny (if it starts to look even slightly lumpy, stop beating!)

Make the icebox stacks:

You need...
  • The sweetened whipped cream you just made
  • 1 box (200g or about 7 oz) of Mr. Christie wafer cookies.

1. Make 8 icebox stacks by placing a spoonful of your whipped cream onto each chocolate wafer cookie, then do the same to 6 more cookies for every stack.  The entire box of Mr. Christie Cookies can make 8 stacks plus one cookie. 

2. Place your 8 stacks in a round flower shape.

3. Lightly cover the whole cake in your remaining whipped cream and push some down into the spaces between the stacks. Place in the fridge while you prepare the outer icing.  You can just use your remaining whipped cream to decorate the cake.  Or you can do the following:

Make Whipped Cream Cheese Icing:

You need...
  • 1 cup of whipped cream (the remaining amount from what you made above will be enough)
  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened (250 g)
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar (I used organic, unbleached sugar)
  • Vanilla Bean or natural vanilla extract


1. Beat the cream cheese until softened (1 minute), turning off to stir with a spatula occasionally to incorporate all of it.

2. Add the sugar and beat until the whole mixture is soft and fluffy.

3. Pour in half of the whipped cream and beat for a few seconds to incorporate.  Then stir by hand to fold in the remaining whipped cream.

4. Place in a pastry bag with a Wilton 21 cake decorator tip (or go large and textured with a Wilton 2D tip) on the end.  Take your cake out of the fridge and then using your pastry bag, put the icing on the cake by making swirling motions, starting from the center of the 'swirl' and working out. First make circular swirls on top of each cookie in the stack, then fill in the spaces around the outside with swirls and rosettes of icing.

5. Use sprinkles, chocolate flakes, cookie crumbs, or candy pearls to decorate the cake however you like.

6. Let the whole cake set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but up to 24 hours before serving is good too. Do not serve immediately after making it or the cookies will not have time to soften in order to cut the cake.

This cake is totally delicious, so enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sea-Salted Butter Pecan & Caramel Milk Chocolate Cake (Flourless/Gluten-Free)

Buttery, rich and delicious. That is the best way to describe this melt-in-your mouth masterpiece. I made mine without added sugar, for a more European-style dessert, but you can add sugar to the recipe to make it a bit sweeter (see ingredients list below).

So how did this creamy caramel sensation come about?  Well, I was perusing the chocolate section in Bulk Barn the other day, and found that they had a new bin of caramel-flavoured milk chocolate pieces. Click on this link to find out where to buy these and the ingredients, as well as my review of the taste.

You can also use Valrhona's Caramelia chocolate couverture for this recipe. Learn more about this chocolate product here.

Here is the recipe:

Recipe: Sea-Salted Butter Pecan Caramel Milk Chocolate Cake (Flourless)

You need:
  • An 8-inch springform cake pan, lined with parchment paper (or regular cake pan, but be sure to line with parchment paper) and buttered across the bottom and up the sides.
  • 10 ounces of caramel-flavoured milk chocolate
  • 1/2 lb of butter (2 sticks) chopped into 1" pieces + an extra tsp for greasing the pan
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (optional)

For the topping:
  • 5 ounces caramel-flavoured milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Dulce de leche caramel sauce (I used the Canadian President's Choice brand from the grocery store because it is thick enough to decorate with)
  • Roasted pecans (roasted in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes, sprinkled with a little salt and olive oil)
  • A pinch of chunky sea salt

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Melt together the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler (a pot with 1" of nearly simmering water), while stirring constantly.  Or in a microwave-safe dish for 1 minute.  Stir until fully melted.
  3. If you are adding sugar, add the 1/2 and stir before adding the eggs.
  4. Add all four eggs at once and mix with a hand mixer or immersion (handheld) blender.
  5. Add the salt and mix again for just a few seconds.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan.
  7. If using a springform pan, you may want to place your cake pan on a cookie or pizza pan prior to baking. Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes.  The middle should look less cooked than the outside edges, for a nice smooth centre, although not jiggly. Let cool in the oven for 15 minutes with the door open.
  8. Let cool on the counter for 1 to 2 hours, then refrigerate until cooled. (about 2 hours in the fridge)
  9. Once chilled, invert onto a serving plate and prepare your topping.

To prepare the caramel-flavoured milk chocolate ganache topping: 
  1. Place your 5 ounces of chocolate and the cream into a microwave safe bowl. 
  2. Melt together for 55 seconds in the microwave.  Remove and stir until smooth.  Microwave for 5 second intervals until it can stir smooth. 
  3. Pour the mixture over the cake and spread to the edges.  Either push it so it drips over a little all around the cake, or push more over the edges and use a small offset spatula to smooth out the sides.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes until cooled and set.
  5. Top the cake with your roasted pecans and sprinkle lightly with chunky sea salt. Place your caramel sauce in a small plastic snack bag or decorator bag and cut just the tip off.  With swirling motions, decorate the top of the cake as you please.

Chill completely before serving.  Slice cold with a hot knife (heat under hot water, but dry with a paper towel before cutting).

Enjoy the buttery goodness!

Top with extra ganache set at room temperature for 8 hours and squeezed through the corner of a plastic bag. Sprinkle sea salt and pecans and add caramel sauce for delicious sweetness!