Most bakers are usually reluctant to bake in the summer time, because no one wants to have yet another source of heat bearing down on them. Out comes the no-bake recipes: no-bake cheesecakes, puddings, trifles. Icebox cake (or zebra cake) is one variation of the ever-classic trifle. I strongly believe that contrasting textures makes a dish especially compelling, and the basis of most trifles: a creamy spread and a cakey layer offers that palate-teasing complexity.
I opted to make my own chocolate wafers, but I’m sure you can purchase them if you preferred to save some time. However, these wafers are top-notch, and if you’re one of those people that prefer the cookie bit of an Oreo to the cream (it’s an atrocity but I used to discard the cream bit), these cookies would really hit the spot. I also added a couple of tablespoons of Bailey’s in the whipped topping – because why not, right? It added a subtle alcoholic touch to the dessert with an accented chocolate taste Because of how light this dessert tastes in your mouth, it’s very easy to eat quite a lot of it. Restraint, my friends, restraint.
1 batch of chocolate wafers (recipe below)
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
2 tbsps of powdered sugar
2 tbsps of Bailey’s (optional)
Whip the cream till stiff peaks form. Add in sugar and Bailey’s, if using. Alternate layers of chocolate wafers and whipped topping in a bowl, with the wafers forming the bottommost layer. Leave to set at least overnight or up to a day, until wafers soften and become cake-like.
Makes about 30 to 40 wafers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cups (3.38 ounces) whole wheat flour
6 tbsps (1.2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of food processor and pulse several times to mix thoroughly. Cut the butter into about 1/2 inch chunks and add them to the bowl. Pulse several times. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small cup. With the processor running, add the milk mixture and continue to process until the mixture clumps around the blade or the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a large bowl or a cutting board and knead a few times to make sure it is evenly blended.
Form the dough into a log about 7 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in wax paper or foil and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour, or until needed.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the log of dough into slices a scant 1/4-inch thick (I went thinner, closer to 1/8 of inch. If you’re trying to emulate the store-bought wafers, slice as thin as you can, and watch the baking time carefully, as it might be less.) and place them one inch apart on the lined sheets (cookies will spread). Bake for a total of 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies will puff up and deflate; they are done about 1 1/2 minutes after they deflate.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets on racks, or slide the parchment onto racks to cool completely. These cookies may be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks or be frozen for up to two months.
Note: These cookies should crisp as they cool. If they don’t, you’re not baking them long enough, in which case, return them to the oven to reheat and bake a little longer, then cool again.