When life hands you strawberries, make strawberry icebox cake. When life hands you a crazy week with little access to your kitchen, eat strawberry icebox cake for dinner.
Last week was one of THOSE weeks. It was the kind of week where you wake up with a head cold, resolve to spend the entire day watching Bob the Builder in your pajamas, then realize with horror that contractors are arriving at your home in less than 30 minutes, which means you not only have to put on proper pants, but you’ll also need to leave the house if you want to use the bathroom any time in the next 8 hours.
The whole house was basically in disarray for the week, with furniture crammed to the center of most rooms for painting, and the few untouched rooms housing all the crap we couldn’t fit in the center of the other rooms. Yikes. Nothing makes you realize how blessed you are with more than you need than having to move all the stuff you own to new locations.
Since I clearly had not planned well for this disruption in our usual routine, we ate out a whole lot last week. More chicken nuggets were consumed than is probably advisable. I had made this Strawberry Ice Box Cake for a get together on Sunday, and we may have eaten the leftovers for dinner once or twice. I’d be embarrassed if it weren’t so darn good. Plus, it’s got fruit and it’s creamy, so this is practically a smoothie. JUST GO WITH IT.
This recipe first appeared on the blog way back in 2011, when dinosaurs still roamed the Internet and the only people reading this blog were me and my mom (hi, mom!). Over the past few months, I’ve been going through old posts, trying to decide what’s worthy of an update and what needs to go. I had almost forgotten about this lovely Strawberry Ice Box Cake, which is a shame because it’s a simple, beautiful, and tasty dessert that’s perfect for summer. It went onto the update pile immediately, and here we are.
Back in 2011 I said this dessert tastes like “chocolate drizzled strawberry cream clouds,” and you know what? I stand by that claim. Made with layers of graham crackers, whipped cream, and strawberries fused together by nothing more than a few hours in the fridge, this “cake” is about as basic as you get, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is the best summer has to offer–simple flavors, minimal prep time, maximum enjoyment.
Ice box cakes can really be made with any kind of juicy fruit and creamy filling, but strawberries and homemade whipped cream is still my favorite. If I’m feeing really fancy, I like to swirl some vanilla bean seeds into the whipped cream and top the cake with fresh bananas and a generous drizzle of bittersweet chocolate ganache. After a few hours in the fridge, the graham crackers soften into thin, sponge cake-like layers, and the cake can be sliced and served like any other layer cake. I like the cake best when it’s really cold, so chilling for several hours and serving it straight from the fridge is definitely a bonus. Feel free to add banana slices to the layers for more of a banana split flavor profile or branch out with other fruits.
This recipe makes plenty for sharing. If you have a smaller (or bigger) crowd, you can also feel free to adjust the size by adding more or less graham crackers to the bottom layer. Of course, I recommend making the full size, that way you have the leftovers to eat for dinner all week long. 🙂
Strawberry Icebox Cake
Layers of graham crackers, strawberries, and whipped cream combine to make a creamy no-bake cake that's perfect for summer.
- 2 lbs. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 3 cups whipping cream
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, seeds removed and saved
- 24 graham crackers (3 sleeves)
- 1 banana, sliced
For the ganache
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Place whipping cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip with a wire whisk until it begins to hold stiff peaks. Add powdered sugar and vanilla or vanilla bean seeds and whip to combine.
- On your serving tray, spread a thin layer of whipped cream. Cover with a layer of six graham crackers. Place another thin layer of whipped cream on top of the graham crackers. Cover with a layer of strawberries. Add a layer of graham crackers and repeat this process three times, until there are four layers of graham crackers, ending with a final layer of whipped cream.
- On the last layer, swirl the whipped cream to desired "look" and top with fresh sliced strawberries and bananas, if desired. Refrigerate for 4 or more hours.
- For the ganache, heat the whipping cream over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the outside. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Allow to sit for about two minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the cake. To drizzle, place ganache in a small ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole in one corner. Squeeze top of bag to drizzle over cake.