Icebox Cakes Recipe

Makes four individual cakes from homemade cookies. These should be assembled at least 12 hours before serving for the cookies to soften and become delicious and forkable. The chocolate sablé dough must be rolled out, cut and chilled before baking, so consider making it the day before that (two days before serving). The whipped cream should be made just before the ice box cake is assembled. Stored in an airtight container, the icebox cakes will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.


Chocolate Sablé Dough For Cookies
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
15 tbsp (7-1/2 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Icebox Cakes
1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar


Chocolate Sablé Dough For Cookies

Step 1: Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a medium bowl.

Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, and then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.

Step 3: Scrape down the bowl, and then add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough is uniform, about 15 seconds.

Icebox Cakes

Step 1: Set the sablé dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and press it into a flat, even, rectangle measuring about 5″ by 6″. Lay a second sheet of parchment paper on top and roll out the dough to an even 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment and, using a 2-1/2″ round cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough; you will need a total of 24 cookies for four cakes. The dough will be soft, so don’t try to remove the circles until after chilling.

Step 2: Slide the parchment paper with the dough onto a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is cold and firm, at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. The longer the dough chills, the less it will spread during baking.

Step 3: Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 4: Use a small metal spatula to transfer the dough circles to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1″ apart. Because this dough toughens too much when rerolled, we save any cookie dough scraps and bake them as snacks for our café employees. They are best baked on their own baking sheet, with the baking time reduced by 1-2 minutes.

Step 5: Bake until crisp, about 6 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking. (Note: because the sablés don’t change colour during baking, it’s wise to bake a test batch of one or two cookies to check baking time for your oven before committing your whole batch.) Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Let cool to room temperature.

Step 6: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners sugar on medium speed until the cream holds medium-soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, whip the cream and confectioners sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk. If you’re not ready to use the whipped cream, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Step 7: Set a cookie on your work surface; have the rest of them nearby. Fit a piping bag with a 1/2″ plain tip and fill the bag about halfway with whipped cream. Position the tip about 1/4″ above the cookie and, holding the bag stationary and perpendicular to the surface, pipe whipped cream onto the cookie until the cream forms a circle about 1/4″ thick that reaches the edge of the cookie. Top with a second cookie. Repeat the layering until you have a stack of 6 cookies separated by 5 layers of cream (do not pipe cream onto the sixth cookie). Repeat with the remaining cookies and whipped cream; refill the piping bag as needed.

Step 8: Place the stacks on a large plate and cover carefully with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours to let the layers meld into a forkable cake. Serve chilled.

See more recipes from Caitlin Freeman.

Reprinted with permission from Caitlin Freeman’s Modern Art Desserts (2013 Ten Speed Press).