Icebox cakes are layered desserts that use only a handful of ingredients. The cakes are assembled and then put in the fridge for several hours (or overnight) in order for the ingredients to meld together to form a moist, cake-like dessert. Icebox cakes became very popular in American culture during the 20s and 30s because of their simplicity (and deliciousness!).
Icebox cakes usually call for pre-made ingredients like boxed Jell-O and packaged cookies, but I like to make the components from scratch just to add an extra touch. Plus, anything homemade just tastes better! My take on this summer dessert incorporates three of my favorite flavors: peanut butter, chocolate and caramel. The peanut butter is highlighted with peanut butter cookies. The chocolate comes in the form of velvety chocolate pudding (make sure to use good quality cocoa powder such as Valrhona!). As a finishing touch, I drizzle on caramel sauce in between the layers of cookie and pudding to complete the flavor profile.
I like to serve this dessert in clear glass ramekins to show off its beautiful layers. This is a great dessert for a summer get together—just assemble everything the night before, pop it in the fridge, and enjoy the next day!
Note: The Peanut Butter Cookie and Caramel Sauce recipes make larger batches than what’s needed in the Icebox Cake recipe, so keep in mind that you’ll have leftovers!
Peanut Butter Cookies
- 12 to 16 small peanut butter cookies see recipe below
- 1 cup caramel sauce see recipe below
- Make and bake off the cookies. Set them aside to cool while you make the caramel sauce.
Peanut Butter Cookies
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chips. Set aside.
- In Kitchen Aid bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter on medium speed until combined. Add the sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and peanut butter chips.
- Portion out with an ice cream scoop onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Flatten slightly with palm. Mark the dough with the back of a fork in a wave pattern and sprinkle some granulated sugar on top before baking.
- Bake 14 to 15 minutes, rotating once halfway through.
- Stir together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Brush the insides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to eliminate any sugar sticking to the sides. Increase to high heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar is amber colored, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Using a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula, stir the cream into the caramel. Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until all of the bits of caramel are melted. Stir in salt.
Make the filling:
- Whisk together the cornstarch and ½ cup of the milk in a small stainless steel bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, 1/3 cup water, and the remaining milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to just a boil over medium heat, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture into the chocolate mixture. Bring back to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding begins to boil. Lower the heat and cook for 1 minute. Pour the pudding into a clean bowl and place over a bowl of ice. Stir pudding with a rubber spatula until pudding is cool to the touch.
- In a mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold into the cooled chocolate mixture.
Fill the ramekins:
- With a fork, drizzle some caramel sauce around the edges of the ramekins. Cover the bottom of the ramekin with some pudding. Place one cookie over the pudding. Drizzle caramel over the cookie. Cover with pudding and repeat the steps until ramekins are full; make sure that you end with the chocolate pudding so that the tops of the ramekins are completely covered with the pudding. Drop a dot of caramel onto the top. Drag a sharp knife tip through the caramel to create a design. Place in the refrigerator and let set up for at least 4 hours or overnight.