Basic Icebox Cake (and 7 Variations)

Cookies of choice
Nilla wafers, Graham crackers, animal crackers, chocolate chip cookies, gingersnaps, Oreos, amaretti cookies, Milanos, Biscoff, butter waffles—just avoid “coated” cookies (like frosted animal crackers) that will not be able to absorb the moisture from the whipped cream, as they’ll remain firm

Whipped cream of choice
Coffee- and/or booze-spiked; swirled with jam, peanut butter, tahini, caramel, dulce de leche, lemon curd; folded with cocoa powder, grapefruit zest, a splash of Campari; tangy with crème fraîche or Greek yogurt

Add-ins
Chopped chocolate, nuts, chocolate-covered espresso beans, or Luxardo cherries; cocoa nibs; fresh fruit; pistachio paste

Toppers and garnishes
Chocolate shavings or curls; marshmallows (brûlée them!); chocolate, strawberry, or caramel sauce; sprinkles; the streusel from your freezer

Customize each category to your liking. If you’re hunting for a unifying theme, look for inspiration from classic desserts—like tiramisu or banana cream pie or strawberry shortcake, or choose a color schemes—pink, green, yellow, golden—or a flavor profiles (fruity, chocolatey, nutty, salty-sweet).

Once you’ve picked your materials, arrange a layer of cookies, a layer of whipped cream, a layer of cookies… repeat until you’re finished. You can make a freestanding icebox cake on a round plate or tuck it into a plastic wrap-lined loaf pan for the neatest appearance. Finish with a layer of whipped cream if you want softness throughout, or end on a layer of cookies if you’re looking for more of a top crust sort of situation. Stick it in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours and the next time you see it, the cookies and cream will have joined in a perfect union.

Icebox cakes come in all shapes and sizes. The classic is: Nabisco chocolate wafers, layered with whipped cream, and stacked into a log. You could also build the cake in a circle, or arrange logs next to each other for a more-classic cake shape. You could flavor your whipped cream with peanut butter or coffee or caramel. You could use graham crackers or gingersnaps or thin chocolate chip cookies.

There are 5 Steps

Dump a lot of heavy cream into a bowl, and whip it until it holds a medium-to-stiff peak. If you’re measuring, whip 3 cups of cream for each sleeve of cookies. Before whipping, you can fold in flavorings like splash of vanilla or a big pinch of confectioner’s sugar, but the cream is great as is.

Take a cookie, spread a spoonful of whipped cream on top of it, and top it with another cookie. Repeat until you have a little tower. When the tower gets too high, lay it on its side.

Build another tower of cookies, lay it on its side, and connect your two cookie-logs. Repeat until the sleeve of wafers is finished, reserving some of your whipped cream. You should have one, big, messy log of cookies and cream.

Frost the log with your remaining whipped cream.

Cover your cake with foil, and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Before serving, you can garnish it with chocolate shavings or sprinkles — but I usually just slice it on the bias and dig in.

Tirami-icebox:
Biscoff cookies + whipped cream spiked with 1 tablespoon of espresso power and 1 tablespoon amaretto + cocoa powder and chocolate shavings

Birthday Cake:
Animal crackers + vanilla bean-flecked mascarpone whipped cream + rainbow sprinkles

Spumoni:
Milano cookies + whipped cream mixed with pistachio paste + halved strawberries and chopped chocolate

Matcha Mint:
Thin Mints (but we’d recommend Oreos instead—Thin Mints remain firm because of their chocolate shell) + mint-infused matcha whipped cream + sifted matcha

Cherry Chip:
Tate’s chocolate chip cookies + whipped cream mixed with chopped Luxardo cherries and miniature chocolate chips + additional cherries and chocolate

Berry Shortcake:
Belgian butter waffle cookies + whipped cream folded with raspberry preserves and almond extract + fresh fruit, confectioners’ sugar, and sliced almonds

Lemon Meringue:
Graham crackers + whipped cream folded with lemon curd + marshallow “meringue” topping

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