This chocolate icebox cake was a standby at my grandmother’s house. She made hers in a loaf pan, turned it out, and covered it in icing. Then she served it sliced paper-thin, on the diagonal, which showed off all the delicious layers.
It is no surprise that later in life, with a family of my own, I started making this same cake as a holiday treat.
If you're unfamiliar with icebox cakes, this is an easy "cake" made by layering thin chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream. The cake needs to be chilled, which is an important step. This is when the cookies soften and the assembly transforms into sliceable dessert.
For almost two decades now, our family has spent New Year’s Eve in New Hampshire with several other families with children. When the kids were younger, they’d have their own little feast and were scurried off to bed before the grown-ups popped the champagne corks and sampled the caviar.
On the menu for the kids, always and forever, was this icebox cake. But now it had a new interpretation: we made it the form of a snowman, or snowperson, as we called it to be totally exemplary and PC.
As the years went by, some of the guests changed, but the snowman cake remained a constant. It was giant (serving at least thirty), and the kids always helped make it. Now that they are older, they’ve taken it over. Some of the more recent iterations: The Edward Snowden Cake (he had glasses), The Snow Lady (she had a skirt and eyelashes), and Snowbama.
If you don’t have a big enough platter, use the back of a baking sheet and line it with parchment. The circles serve only as guides, as do the amounts of cookies and whipped cream. You could make this pretty much any size and shape you like by reducing or increasing the amount of cream and cookies.
The point is that it’s a very kid-friendly project, even with small children. You could use other candy decorations or make a tree instead of a snowman. You or your kids will have plenty of cool ideas, I'm sure.
Regardless: have some fun!
Snowman Chocolate Icebox Cake
For best success when whipping cream, chill the beater and the bowl ahead of time. Did you forget? Fill the bowl with ice water and place the beaters in it. Swirl it around for a few seconds, drain, and dry the bowl.
You can design this cake any size you want. Just cut the circle guides to fit your serving plate.
If you prefer, you can assemble this icebox cake in loaf pans lined with plastic wrap. When ready to serve, turn them out onto a platter and cover with whipped cream.
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies (I like Nabisco Chocolate Wafers)
- Candy for decorations, such as peppermint sticks, Dots, mini-marshmallows, licorice sticks, Junior Mints, and pretzel logs
Cut parchment circles for guides:
Cut 1 6-inch circle and 1 8-inch circle out of baker’s parchment. Place them on a platter with the small one on top and the bottom directly underneath.
Whip the cream:
In a chilled mixer bowl with chilled beaters, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over whip.
Place a small dab of whipped cream beneath each parchment paper circle on your plater to hold them in place.
Make the cookie stacks and arrange them on the platter:
Spread about a teaspoon of whipped cream on each cookie. Stack 4 to 5 cookies together and set them, standing upright on their edges, on the edge of one circle (see photo, below). Continue to sandwich the cookies and stack them all around the circle and in the middle until the circle is covered. Repeat process to assemble the second circle.
Ice the cake with the remaining whipped cream:
Use a spatula to spread the cream on the tops and sides of the circles to make the snowman/woman/person.
Refrigerate the cake:
Chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Decorate the cake with candies:
Decorate the cake shortly before serving, especially if you are using candy that might soften or bleed color into the whipped cream as it sits (like dots or some hard candies).