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Kitchen Mailbox: Icebox Cakes no-bake solutions to hot kitchens

Thursday, June 29, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

We confess, there are times when our readers request a recipe we've never heard of. For instance, Nancy Goodall of Clearwater, Fla., requested a recipe for icebox cake. We knew an icebox cake had to be a no-bake cake, but what, we wondered, does an icebox cake consist of?

So we asked our readers. We thank you all for your time and for introducing us to such tasty, easy-to-make cakes. The following comments and suggestions came from readers who responded to our request:

From Arlene Weiner of Squirrel Hill: "An icebox cake is made of baked goods that are assembled, filled, chilled and sliced. I have a 'Settlement House Cookbook,' dated 1954, with a section on icebox cakes. Its recipes used ladyfingers, macaroons, or strips of angel food cakes as a base with a variety of fillings."

Virginia Ann Senyk of Baldwin Township checked out her copy of "Fanny Farmer Cookbook." Here's what she found: "Line a mold or large bowl with strips of sponge cake, pound cake or cake of your choice. Have cake pieces overlap at the edges. Fill with a buttercream filling, chocolate, lemon, or coffee. Cover cake and chill overnight. To serve, unmold and top with whipped cream."

Here's Andrea Sheth's version of icebox cake: "You can't possibly not have tasted one! The traditional birthday cake in our home for over 20 years was an icebox cake. It is made with plain graham crackers and one layer each of chocolate and vanilla pudding. Any variants are delicious. Chocolate graham crackers with butterscotch and vanilla pudding is another great combo."

We used each of our reader's suggestions. We think you'll like them.

Icebox Cake 1

1 prepared angel food cake or pound cake (we used pound cake)
1 (4-ounce) box of Durkee lemon pie filling and pudding
1 (5.1-ounce) vanilla instant pudding
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin or- anges

Place mandarin oranges in colander to drain. Make the lemon pie filling; set aside.

Slice the pound cake in 1/2-inch slices. Line the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with the pound cake. Pour the lemon pie filling into the pound cake-lined pan. Place the mandarin oranges over the lemon filling. Gently spread the vanilla pudding over the oranges. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the rim of the springform pan, whip 2 cups heavy cream (or you may use non-dairy whipped topping). Spread over cake. Serve immediately.

Icebox Cake 2

2 (21-ounce) cans blackberry pie filling or fresh fruit, about 2 cups
Graham crackers (about 20)
1 (5.1-ounce) package vanilla instant pudding
1 3/4 cups nondairy whipped topping

Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with graham crackers.

Make the pudding according to package directions; set aside for a few minutes.

To make the filling, carefully blend the pudding with the whipped topping. Spread half the filling over graham crackers. Add another layer of graham crackers, then spread remaining filling over crackers. Add another layer of crackers, then finally spread pie filling or fresh fruit over last layer of crackers. Add another layer of whipped cream or whipped topping before serving.

Icebox Cake 3

2 (2.8-ounce) packages instant chocolate mousse mix
Chocolate graham crackers (we used 20 crackers)
1 (8-ounce) nondairy whipped topping
1 to 2 medium bananas
1 jar of chocolate sauce (found near the ice cream)

Line the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch square pan with chocolate graham crackers.

Prepare the mousse according to package directions.

Spread half the mousse over the crackers. Spread about 1 cup whipped topping over mousse. Add another layer of crackers, then the remaining mousse and a final layer of crackers. Spread 1 cup of whipped topping over crackers. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, slice the bananas and place over dessert. Spread dessert with a final layer of whipped topping. When ready to serve, drizzle chocolate sauce over each portion.

Note: If you'd rather make this in a 9-by-13 pan, double all ingredients. (Use approximately 30 graham crackers.)

Here's Andrea Sheth's family's favorite birthday cake.

Ice Box Cake 4

1 (5.1-ounce) box of vanilla pudding and pie filling (not instant)
1 (5.1-ounce) box of chocolate pudding and pie filling (not instant)
Graham crackers
Whipped cream

Line the bottom of an 9-by-13-inch glass pan with graham crackers.

Make the puddings according to package directions; cool. Spread two-thirds of chocolate pudding over crackers. Add another layer of crackers, spread vanilla pudding over second layer of crackers, then another layer of crackers. Swirl remaining pudding on top of cake. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with whipped cream.

Note: We think it's best for all the desserts to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours. This gives the dessert time to set firmly enough to slice.


"Everyone who has shopped at a Giant Eagle recently must have noticed the proliferation of their own house brands. In order to make shelf space for these products, I wonder if the chain has been dropping some national brand products, perhaps products that do not sell quickly. For instance, I shop at three Giant Eagles (and occasionally a fourth) and I cannot find Campbell's Manhattan clam chowder at any of them. I have found it at other supermarkets, as well as other products which seem no longer to be available at Giant Eagle supermarkets.

"I shop frequently at the old Food Gallery on Center Avenue, now a Giant Eagle. The store has been 'dumbed down' as the range of products continues to dwindle from what the Food Gallery carried, and in some cases I cannot find the large size of something, only the smaller size ranges. I realize that this store is probably targeting single people, but even thrifty single people will want to buy larger sizes of products, which offer savings.

"That Food Gallery used to look pretty slick, but the use of so many shelf tags in this smaller store, all pointing out Giant Eagle specials, makes it look scruffy now. I do appreciate Giant Eagle's expanded sections of ethnic foods, which make shopping more interesting.

"I would be interested in having a Giant Eagle spokesman's comments on their changing policies."

Ellen Parkes

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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