A photo of a slice of raspberry and whipped ice box cake.

Ice Box Cakes

It’s officially the time of year when turning on the oven becomes one of the furthest things from my mind. Translation: Bye-bye baking, see you in September.

That decision, however, creates a void that sometimes needs to be filled. Enter the ice box cake.

Are you familiar with this no-bake dessert that’s layers of cookies, fruit, and whipped cream refrigerated or frozen until the cookies soften and turn cake-like?

My mom never made ice box cakes, neither did my nana or Aunt Gene, who when I asked her about it, recalled they were a staple at church functions. Is it possible this falls into the category of something old that’s new again?

Its origin isn’t definitive. Recipes first appear in 1920, when refrigerators were called ice boxes and weren’t found in kitchens they way they are today.

Some think ice box cakes were invented by Nabisco as a way to promote their products. Others believe they take inspiration from similar European desserts like charlotte russe and trifle.

Whatever the case may be, their popularity soars during World War II, when eggs and butter were scarce, and people had to make do with what they had.

Shopping list in hand, I experience an oh-no moment when the crucial ingredient – the iconic Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers – aren’t on any store shelves, or even on Amazon.

Turns out, in February, one year shy of its 100th anniversary, Mondelez International (Nabisco’s parent company) ceased production “to make room for new innovations.” What? Doesn’t a product having cult status and 1,500 followers on its Facebook Fan Club page mean anything?

An unrelated aside, have you been down the cookie aisle lately? I hadn’t. About half the space is nothing but Oreos. I was awe struck, so many flavors, so many amounts of filling, even Oreo Thins. Geez, I was out of that loop.

Making an ice box cake is fun for all ages. Set your imagination free to create delicious flavor combinations. Try pudding as a filling; add whipped cream to pudding; use graham crackers, ladyfingers, or yes, even Oreos, probably without the filling; explore fruit options like blueberries or mandarin oranges; add nuts, chocolate chips, or sprinkles. Send me a photo of what you create.

Tuesday’s AARP-sponsored class was full within an hour. Stay tuned for the details for upcoming classes on July 31, August 30, and September 21.

Do you know a teen who loves cooking and wants five days of action-packed hands-on experiences learning new skills from a professional chef? Maybe they dream of becoming a chef one day? If so, our Teen Chef Camp is the perfect idea! On July 24, 26, 27, 28, and 29, teens will learn everything they need to know to slice, dice, chop, and brunoise their way to stocks, sauces, soups, appetizers, salads, side dishes, dry and moist heat cooking, breads, and desserts; preparing delicious dishes using fresh and seasonal ingredients, and how to present them with flair and creativity.

On July 26, Chef/Butcher Brett Sippy of Davison Meats kicks off his monthly class: Behind the Butcher Counter, where you’ll cook and learn about all the different cuts and best uses of meat, poultry, and fish. The July menu: U.S. Prime top sirloin kebabs; a crunchy and tangy Southwest Slaw with a poppyseed dressing; and juicy Balsamic Marinated Peaches served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

On August 8, no passport needed to join Zio Peppe Chef/Owner Devon Sanner (who on July 22 competes to become Tucson’s next Iron Chef), and wine authority Bob Leopardi for Taste of Italy: Wines & Small Bites. You’ll enjoy three whites: San Lorenzo Gavi from Piemonte, Viticoltori de Conciliis Falanghina from Campania, and Venica & Venica Pinot Grigio from Friuli-Venezia Guiliaand; and three reds: Lenotti Valpolicella from Veneto, Domenico Clerico Dolcetto from Langhe, Piemonte, and Bastioni dei Collazzi Chianti Classico DOCG from Impruneta, Florence, with a curated menu to complement each wine.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Raspberry Ice Box Cake
Yield: 10-12 servings

2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box Nabisco Nilla wafer cookies
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons water
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl if using a handheld beater or whisk, whip cream, sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. In a small bowl, stir the jam and water until smooth.
2. In an 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch baking dish, arrange about 25 cookies in a single layer. Spread ⅓ of the whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Sprinkle ⅓ of the raspberries over cream. Drizzle ⅓ of jam mixture over raspberries. Repeat with two more layers.
3. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. To serve, run knife under hot water each time to be able to make clean cuts through the layers, otherwise you’ll have a mess.
Note: Opt for the Nabisco brand. Other brands don’t measure up in taste.

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