Thursday, July 16, 2015

Coffee Cream Ice Box Cake

I get a bunch of food magazines, which I love to read and get inspiration from. This month, one of the magazines featured ice box cakes created by famous (at least to foodies) pastry chefs. There were some really interesting ideas, so I decided that my project this summer is going to experiment with ice box cakes. They are perfect for summer, because you don't have to turn on the oven (which I hate to do when it's hot outside - just makes the air conditioner work harder), are super easy (can you whip some cream and stack cookies together?), and taste so yummy (what's better than whipped cream and cookies?)!

 It seemed like the combinations could be endless, and I was a little overwhelmed at first trying to figure out what to make first. However, I had made some coffee syrup a little while back and had wanted to use that in some way. Cruising the cookie aisle at the grocery store, I saw a package of Bischoff cookies (biscuits?) and it's tag line was something like "coffee's favorite cookie." Ding! Ding! Ding! We had a winner! So I grabbed a couple of packages of them, some whipping cream, and some creme fraiche.  Originally, I had wanted to use mascarpone cheese, thinking I needed a little tang to cut through some of the richness and sweetness, but I couldn't find it, so I used creme fraiche, which worked well. If you can't find either of those, I think a 50/50 mixture of cream cheese and sour cream would also work.

So give this a try - it really is simple!

Coffee Cream Ice Box Cake

2 packages Bischoff cookies (you won't need all of these, but some of the cookies might be broken, so it's best to have a back up package)
3 tbsp. coffee syrup (see recipe below) , more or less depending on how strong you want the coffee taste to come out
3 cups whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (or scrape the seeds of half a vanilla bean and add)
1 8 oz container of creme fraiche (or mascarpone cheese)
raspberries or sliced almond for garnish (optional)

First, you need to whip the cream. To help matters along, I usually put my bowl and beater in the fridge for a while (20-30 minutes, or even a couple of hours if I think of it early enough). Pour the whipping cream in the mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until thick and fluffy (with my Kitchen Aid mixer on high it takes about 3 minutes). Measure out 1.5 cups of the whipped cream and set aside.

To the remaining whipped cream in the mixing bowl, add the 3 tbsp of coffee syrup and creme fraiche. Whip together until incorporated. It should look something like this:

Take about 3 tablespoons of the coffee cream and thinly spread it (I used and offset spatula) on whatever serving platter you are going to use for the cake. Then, pour a little bit of the coffee syrup mixture into a shallow bowl or plate with sides.

Dip eight cookies into the coffee syrup, then arrange on top of the coffee cream like this:

Spread about a cup of coffee cream on top of the cookies. You want to have a fairly thick layer of cream -- about a quarter inch or so. Dip eight more cookies and layer those in the same way on top of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until you have 4 layers, ending with cream on top. Use the remaining cream to frost the sides. Alternatively, you can make an extra layer of cookies and cream, and leave the sides of the cake open, showing some of the cookies.

This is what mine looked like at the end:

Refrigerate the completed cake for at least 8 hours, overnight is best. I even had the cake in the fridge for 3 days and it was still delicious!

To serve, I used the vanilla whipped cream (remember setting that aside at the beginning of the recipe?) and piped along the bottom edge and on the top, using some fresh raspberries for decoration. You could also decorate with chocolate (sprinkle chocolate shavings or sift cocoa powder on top).

I served this at a PTA meeting and it was a big hit! Next time you want to make something sweet, but don't want to turn the oven on, this is definitely a good one to try. You will be the hit of the potluck! Serves 8-10.

To make the coffee syrup:  Simmer 2 cups strong coffee with 1.5 cups sugar in a small saucepan until reduced by about half and syrupy -- it took about an hour at a simmer for it to cook down to the right consistency. You'll end up with about 1 and 3/4 cups syrup and you won't use all of this for this recipe.

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