Snack companies soon took note of the dessert’s popularity; Nabisco® even printed an icebox cake recipe on the back of its wafer cookie boxes (we used the cookies in this here recipe). Fast-forward 80 years, and icebox cakes are still killing it.
“They are easy to make and do not require baking if you use premade ingredients, making them a great dessert for these hot summer days,” Bobbie Lloyd, chief baking officer of Magnolia Bakery, says about the classic dessert, which you can still find at any of Magnolia’s locations in flavors such as peanut butter and strawberry. “They’re also a nice option for a not-so-sweet dessert, since the whipped cream is light and not overwhelmingly sweet.”
We wanted to get even colder than the icebox (a term for the refrigerators of the time), so we made a frozen version of the cake. As for the flavor profile, we immediately went to our favorite ice pop, the classic Creamsicle®, for inspiration: Vanilla wafers are layered with alternating layers of orange ricotta and orange whipped cream before getting topped with candied orange slices. Oh, and the best part? We even reduce Creamsicles® down to a thick sauce to fold into the whipped cream for an extra punch of nostalgic flavor.
The trick to making the cake perfectly is using a springform pan lined with plastic wrap. This way the cake can be easily released and transferred to a serving platter cleanly from the freezer. Then you just let the cake temper to allow for easy and clean slices. Each citrus-packed piece of this gorgeous, creamy frozen icebox cake will take you right back to your childhood, guaranteed.
Creamsicle®-Inspired Icebox Cake
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling, chilling and freezing time
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, plus cooling, chilling and freezing time
For the Candied Orange Wheels:
2 oranges, sliced into ¼-inch-thick wheels
2 cups sugar
1½ cups water, divided, plus more for blanching
For the Ricotta Cream:
32 ounces whole-milk ricotta
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons reserved orange syrup
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Orange Cream:
6 Creamsicles®, sticks removed
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon reserved orange syrup
½ teaspoon kosher salt
12 cups (two 11-ounce boxes) vanilla wafers (such as Nilla)
Candied orange wheels
1. Make the candied orange wheels: In a large skillet, cover the orange wheels with cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook until the wheels are softened, 10 minutes. Transfer the wheels to a plate and discard the water.
2. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the sugar and the water. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves, 2 minutes. Add the oranges to the syrup and cook until the wheels are translucent and the syrup has reduced, 40 minutes. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let cool completely. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the orange syrup.
3. Make the ricotta cream: In a blender, combine all of the ricotta cream ingredients and purée until smooth, then set aside.
4. Make the orange cream: In a medium saucepan, melt the Creamsicles over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce until a thick sauce has formed, 10 to 12 minutes.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream to stiff peaks. Fold in the cooled Creamsicle sauce, 1 tablespoon of the reserved orange syrup and the salt.
6. Line a 9-inch springform pan with plastic wrap. Cover the bottom surface completely with a single layer of vanilla wafers, followed by half of the ricotta cream, another layer of vanilla wafers and half of the orange cream. Repeat this process 1 more time using the rest of the wafers and fillings. Cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, then transfer to the freezer to freeze overnight.
7. The next day, remove the cake from the freezer and unwrap the plastic wrap. Transfer to a plate and layer the candied orange slices over the cake. Let temper for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.