This cake recipe is so fast and easy it should be illegal. Who knows? Maybe it is. It's a Lemon Raspberry Icebox Cake recipe that combines my favorite spring flavors (lemon, raspberry and whipped cream) in an old fashioned dessert that is perfect to serve for Easter brunch, Mother's Day or just hanging out in the backyard before it gets too hot and you have to hide in the house pretending you are outside... oh, sorry, it's a Phoenix thing. I'll even share the top secret, super fast way to make raspberry sauce that I use for just such occasions.
I've never made an icebox cake before. I've had them , of course—soft and fluffy, usually chocolate and, to tell you the truth, a little messy looking. They aren't what I usually think of when I think, "special occasion dessert." Since you know me by now, you know I only make dessert on special occasions. Icebox cakes remind me of my childhood and summer days at Grandma's house, much too "home-y" for a special brunch or Easter holiday. But, I saw some pictures of chocolate wafer icebox cakes on the internet recently that were "stacked." The cookies were layered on a pedestal with the edges of the cookies showing. A light bulb went off... a revelation of what icebox cakes should be!
The dark, chocolate cookies in the photographs still looked pretty messy for a fancy treat so, I set my little brain to figure out a way to fix that. Changing out the traditional chocolate wafers for lemon wafers was the first move. Next, I needed to make the whipped cream a little more stable so I added mascarpone cheese. You can substitute cream cheese if you wish but, I find that mascarpone does not have the "tang" that cream cheese has and will not change the flavor of the whipped cream.
The next problem was the sweetness. A cake made out of cookies and whipped cream always seemed a bit on the sweet side. I like desserts that are on the "tart" side. That's were the raspberries come in. I thought about drizzling raspberry sauce between some of the layers of cream. The only problem is that I hate to make raspberry sauce. Yes, I said it. It's the seeds! They get stuck in the strainer and it takes forever to get the juice through. Then there are the dishes; the pan to boil the berries, the strainer filled with raspberry seeds and the bowl to drain the juice into. And the dots! Little red dots... everywhere.
Here it is, my super secret, you will have to water board me to get me to admit it in public secret for fast and easy raspberry sauce. I cheat. Yes, I buy a small container of raspberry sorbet and let it thaw into a beautiful ruby jewel colored sauce that is, dare I say, more delicious than homemade because there are no dishes and more importantly, no red dots.
In case you think it is too easy, there are a couple of tips for using store bought sorbet:
- Buy the best sorbet possible. That means reading the ingredients on the back of the container to insure it has only berries, sugar, water and very few other ingredients.
- Buy the sorbet a day or two early, if possible, so it can thaw out and separate. The crystals and air in the sorbet will separate and float to the top and may be skimmed off leaving a ruby colored sauce. If you don't have time and need to use it the same day, that's fine, it will have an "airy" look to it. (see the picture above).
- There is no need to thaw the entire container for this recipe. You only use 4 to 6 tablespoons for the actual cake and will need some left over to serve with the cake.
- 8 ounce container of raspberry sorbet, thawed
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese) at room temperature
- 105 thin, round cookies
- Fresh raspberries for garnish
- Fresh mint or tarragon leaves (optional)
- Remove sorbet from the freezer to thaw in advance. Skim if desired.
- Whip the heavy cream with a mixer until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle in sugar and continue whipping to soft peaks.
- In a separate bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese and 1 cup of the beaten whipped cream together to soften the cheese. Add the cheese and cream mixture to the whipped cream and continue to beat to firm peaks.
- Place whipped cream mixture into piping bags with a small round decorator tip.
- Pipe a thin layer of cream in the center of a serving plate to secure the first layer of cookies. The cream layer should be small than the cookie layer so that it will not be seen under the cookies. Place one cookie in the center of the plate and place additional cookies in a circle around the center cookie.
- Pipe the cream mixture in a spiral over the cookies. Do not pipe all the way to the outer edge of the circle, stop about ½ to ⅓ of the way to the edge.
- Place a second layer of cookies over the cream with just as before only place the outer cookies so that they are positioned between the cookies on the lower level, not directly in line with the lower level. Gently press the layers of cookies in the center in order to level each layer as you go.
- Repeat the cream layer and cookie layer staggering the outer cookies as before. Drizzle this layer with a tablespoon or so of melted raspberry sorbet.
- Repeat this process until all the cookies have ben used. Only drizzle sorbet between every other layer or every third layer, as desired.
- Straighten and level each layer as you go so that you will have a straight and level cake.
- Reserve a small amount of cream (about ⅓ cup) to garnish the top just before serving.
- Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. Or, make the cake in the morning to be served that night.
- When ready to serve, Place a dollop of cream in the center of the cake and top with fresh raspberries and mint leaves to garnish.
- Serve with berries and raspberry "sauce."
- TIP: Be sure to leave the pretty edges of the cookies showing but, bring the cream filling out far enough to hold the layers in place so that the edges do not "droop" in the icebox.