August 9, 2010

Monday Sweets: Strawberry Icebox Cake

I've been a little obsessed with strawberry desserts this summer. First a magazine cover convinced me to make Strawberry-Orange Shortcake Tart. Then I put my local strawberries on freshly-baked-by-not-me pound cake. And then I found that strawberry cake and cupcakes are festive for girly occasions. Strawberries also topped my Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes and Goat Cheese Cheesecakes.
Although I like variety in my new recipe experimentation, a no-bake desserts tweet from The Kitchn sold me on trying these luscious layers of graham crackers, whipped cream, and strawberries drizzled with a chocolate ganache. It reminded me of the graham crackers soften and meld with creaminess in a chocolate eclair dessert, and I have long preached the beauty of a whipped cream and strawberry combo. (For prettier pictures, check out The Kitchn's photos.)
Not only did it require zero additional heat on scorcher of a day, but it also tasted as good as it looks to me and better than it looked to my mother, who mentioned her opinion no less than five times (thanks, Mom). Filled with flavors of simple goodness, it's rich but in a light-and-fluffy sort of way. It was also very pretty before it was cut.

No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake

2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed
3 1/4 cups whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 graham crackers (just less than a pack for me)
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Take out a few of the best-looking strawberries and set them aside for the garnish. Hull the remainder of the strawberries and slice each berry into thin slices.

With a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip 3 cups of cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and whip to combine.

Spread a small spoonful of whipped cream on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan, or a similarly-sized platter. Lay down six graham crackers. Lightly cover the top of the graham crackers with more whipped cream, and then a single layer of strawberries. Repeat three times, until you have four layers of graham crackers. Spread the last of the whipped cream over the top and swirl it lightly with a spoon. Add a few more strawberries.

To make the ganache, heat the cream until bubbles form around the edges, then pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a few minutes, then whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy. Drizzle this over the layered dessert with a spoon, or transfer to a squeeze bottle and use that to drizzle.

Refrigerate for at least four hours, or until the crackers have softened completely. Garnish with additional berries.

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