My grandma’s ice box cake recipe is one of my favorite food memories.
I have lots of other happy memories of her as well.
My great grandma’s hair was a thing of beauty and amazement to me. When I was lucky enough to sleep over at her house, I just couldn’t wait until nighttime. She would sit at her dressing table surrounded by her pretty perfume bottles and soft horsehair brushes and ivory broaches. It was the 1960’s everywhere but in Alta’s bedroom, where it was still the 1920’s. She would take the combs out of her put-up hair and it would cascade down to her waist, soft, wavy and billowy like I just knew a mermaid’s hair would be. Sometimes she even let me brush it, the biggest thrill of all. Softer than a dream, and shiny from the rainwater she saved to wash it in.
My Grandma Greenhaw loved us grand kids and we knew it by the way she let us “help” her. We sliced ripe summer tomatoes from the garden and arranged them fan-like on the plates. We peeled cucumbers and squash. And the biggest honor of all was helping with the Ice Box Cake.
It wasn’t a cake, really. It was graham crackers with whipped cream – layers and layers and layers until we ran out of crackers. Then, we stuck it in the Ice Box for what seemed like eons, waiting and waiting and waiting impatiently until it was soft and luscious and, well, cake-like. The way it works is that the moisture in the whipped cream softens the graham crackers and turns them into thin cake-like layers. It was a treat fit for a queen and her royal court. We giggled and ate so much our tummys hurt and then she read us stories until she began to nod her head and we all headed off to bed.
I decided to update Alta’s Ice Box Cake, using chocolate graham crackers, something she wouldn’t have dreamed of, and smeared with Nutella, also unknown to Alta, before slathering on the whipped cream. The flavors are richer than Alta’s, but the texture takes me right back to nights on her porch eating Ice Box Cake until we were sick. It’s the perfect “cake” for summertime, because there’s no baking required. No heating up your already steamy kitchen. And My! Oh My! is it luscious.
Ice box cakes were invented by Nabisco and have been around since the 1920’s – and my grandma always made them with Nabisco graham crackers. I like chocolate graham crackers even better, and the Nutella gives this cake a richness and extra flavor dimension.
NO-BAKE NUTELLA ICE BOX CAKE
Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 3 hours
3 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 box (14 ounces) chocolate graham cracker cake
1 small jar (14 ounces) Nutella
Whip cream, vanilla, salt and sugar until soft peaks. Slowly add in cream cheese until well blended.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Spread Nutella on graham crackers in a thin layer.
Place a layer of crackers, Nutella side down, in loaf pan, cutting crackers to fit in a single layer. Spread 2/3 cup of whipped cream mixture on top of crackers.
Repeat until all crackers and cream are used up.
Place plastic wrap on top and then place in freezer for 2 hours. Remove and place in refrigerator for 1 hour. (This is a very forgiving recipe, and you just want to make sure the cake has enough chill time to soften the graham crackers. You can skip the freezer step and just keep in the fridge for 8 hours up to about 24 hours.)
Remove wrap, invert onto serving plate and slice as you would a cake. Serve immediately.
Strawberry Ice Box Cake, The Kitchn
Peanutty Ice Box Cake, One Perfect Bite
Coconut Cream Ice Box Cake, Seven Spoons
Ice Box Cake with Carob Chips, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Ice Box Cake, Smitten Kitchen
-posted by Donna