ice box cake with homemade wafers and caramel cream

some time ago, while walking through midtown manhattan with a friend, we passed by magnolia bakery.  in the front window of the shop, a cake decorator was assembling icebox cakes, something they are famous for.  she made it look so easy.  i wanted to make one at home to take to a pot luck dinner.  honestly, i was too lazy to go to the store(s) to look for the chocolate wafers; i made my own.

the recipe i used is from my second book and is the cookie used to make chocolate short stacks, a series of cookies and chocolate whipped cream that is stacked and layered with raspberries.  the cookies are easy to make, i made mine in the food processor.

when i roll out cookies, i use wooden dowels to keep the dough thickness consistent.

they bake up crispy but that changes when they sit with the cream.

to make the cream part, i used some homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream.  the tough part is not to over whip it but to leave it a little glossy so that it spreads smoothly.  also important, use a 40% cream that is not ultra pasteurized since that will have the best texture.

all dressed up and ready to go.  another hint, work quickly, whipped cream does not like to sit out on a hot summer day-it gets a rough texture, just look at the top of the cake.  not a problem for the group i served it to, all i got back was a dirty plate…

caramel icebox cake
serves about 12-16
chocolate wafers
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
coarse sugar
preheat the oven to 350 F. line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
place the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. sprinkle the butter cubes over the mixture and pulse to cut it in. add the vanilla and process just until a smooth dough forms.  add a teaspoon or two of water if the dough does not seem moist-it should be soft and pliable but not crumbly.
remove the dough from the machine and form into 2 thick disks. on a lightly-floured surface, roll out each disk about 3/8 inch thick. using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out at least 60 circles. rework the scraps once or twice and roll out a couple extra. place the wafers about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans. prick them a few times with a fork and sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar.
bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans after 6 minutes, until crisp. let set on the sheet for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before using.

caramel cream
4 cups heavy whipping cream, preferably 40% fat and NOT ultrapasteurized
1/2 cup good quality caramel sauce or dulce de leche

mix the ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly to melt the caramel.  on medium speed, whip until almost stiff peaks form, it should be a little glossy.  assemble the cake and allow it to sit for at least 4 hours before serving.

to assemble the cake
make a ring of 6 cookies on a serving plate, place one in the center.  dollop about 1/2 cup of the cream on top of the ring and carefully spread it out to the edge of the cake but do not let it go over the side.  in the spaces between the cookies, position another ring of cookies around the layer of cream and also place one in the center.  again, top the layer with a 1/2 cup dollop of cream and spread it to the edge.  repeat this with the remaining cookies, alternating the placement of the cookies so that each layer is placed in the spaces between the cookies of the previous layer, you should have 9 cookie layers.  use the remaining cream to make a generous layer on top.  decorate with a couple crumbled cookies or some chocolate shavings.  refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

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