Ina Garten’s Icebox Cake Is My Favorite Summer Dessert

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In my 20s, I lived in a teeny tiny NYC apartment where I couldn’t turn my oven on from May to October if I wanted to keep the temperature below a humid 80 degrees. I loved to bake, but when summer rolled around, I avoided turning the oven on at all costs.

During this time, I fell in love with icebox cake, which felt like a magic trick. Crisp cookies and layers of cream rest overnight in the fridge and emerge as a stunning, perfectly textured layer cake, with absolutely no cooking required. Alchemy! 

My very favorite icebox cake recipe comes from the queen of elegant yet effortless entertaining, Ina Garten. This recipe combines two of my favorite things: coffee and chocolate chip cookies.

This cake is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. It slices like a layer cake, tastes like a cross between cheesecake and tiramisu, and has the texture of chocolate mousse. It has become my signature summer dessert to serve at parties. It’s highly requested and no one believes me when I explain how easy it is to pull together.

How To Make Ina Garten’s Icebox Cake

Ina’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake starts with another culinary icon from The Hamptons, Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. The deeply flavored, crisp chocolate chip cookies are layered in an eight-inch springform pan with a mocha cream.

To make the cream, whip heavy cream with tangy mascarpone, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla. Once this mixture reaches firm peaks, the layering begins. Starting with a base of cookies, alternate cream and cookies until you have five layers.

While truly anyone can make this recipe, be patient when assembling the cookie layers. It’s best to form a single layer of cookies, and then break some of the cookies into smaller pieces to fill any empty spaces.

Ina developed this recipe before Tate’s released their “Tiny Tate’s,” but the miniature version of its classic cookie comes in handy to help assemble the cookie layers like a puzzle.

Once the cake is assembled, let it set in the refrigerator overnight. When it’s time to serve the cake, you can either add curls of dark chocolate on top or sprinkle it with cookie crumbs for garnish, which I prefer.

Simply Recipes / Molly Adams

Tips for Making Ina’s Icebox Cake

I love the sophisticated flavor the espresso powder and coffee liqueur add, but I’ve skipped the espresso powder and swapped the liqueur with chocolate milk if I’m making it for my kids.

One thing to note: The recipe specifies three (eight-ounce) packages of Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, but in 2024, you’ll most likely only find seven-ounce packages (Help! Our groceries are shrinking), but the new size works well. There’s no need to buy a fourth bag.

While Tate’s can be a bit of a splurge, they are the best cookie for the job here. I usually find the best price for them at Costco, and the 21-ounce package is the perfect size for this recipe with a few cookies left over for snacking. 

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