3 Twists on Classic Icebox Cakes

 Cannoli Icebox Cake

Cannoli Icebox Cake

When the weather is hot there’s no need to turn on the oven when a hankering for something sweet hits you. Classic icebox cakes are always a great go-to because they come together in minutes and simply need an overnight in the fridge. You can even make them early in the morning and still serve up a delicious dessert after supper.

For years, I made the delicious recipe you can find on the box of Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers and I must admit, once a summer, I go on the hunt to find them and recreate this recipe I enjoyed so much as a child.

Recently, though, I thought I’d change things up a bit and make something with these familiar flavors that also has a fun, Italian twist. And that’s the story of how my Cannoli Icebox Cake was born (the recipe is below). 

1. Cannoli Icebox Cake

I started with some graham crackers – I love the cinnamon flavor because they really remind me of a crisp cannoli shell. Mix up a delicious cannoli filling with a pinch of cinnamon and follow the icebox cake rules: Hard cookies layered with a generous slather of filling, over and over until you reach the top of the baking dish. Then, cover with whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and please do not forget the mini chocolate chips. After eight hours in the fridge, you can cut yourself a lovely slice of cannoli cake. Delizioso!

2. Tiramisu Icebox Cake

Once I started getting creative, I decided to try another Italian twist on the classic icebox cake, this time going for Tiramisu. Instead of cinnamon, I added a tablespoon of coffee liquor to the filling. And, I gave the graham crackers a quick dip in some cold coffee. The top got a generous sprinkle of cocoa powder and into the fridge it went! Another win for Italy!

I was feeling so good about the results I thought I’d go for a third icebox dessert, this time using cupcakes to make Boston cream pies!

3. Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Now, if you want to bake your own cupcakes, you will have to turn on the oven for this recipe. But if you have a favorite bakery where you can buy some unfrosted vanilla cupcakes, that’s a perfectly wonderful option.

Mix up some instant French vanilla pudding, then combine it with half a cup of whipped cream. Keep the mixture chilled in the fridge while you make some chocolate ganache. I like this recipe. 

Once you’ve made your ganache, remove the pudding mixture from the refrigerator, cut the tops off of your cupcakes (setting them aside for a moment) and spoon the pudding mixture onto the bottoms of the cupcakes. Place the tops back on the cupcake bottoms sandwiching that creamy pudding mixture between, and cover the tops with a generous helping of chocolate ganache. Place them in the fridge overnight to set up and you will love these mini Icebox Boston cream pies!


Recipe for Anna’s Italian Cannoli Icebox Cake

8 oz mascarpone cheese

12 oz whole milk ricotta cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar, divided

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

1 box cinnamon graham crackers

½ cup mini chocolate chips

Prep time: 10 minutes Total time: 30 minutes plus overnight

  1. In a large bowl, add the two cheeses, sugar and cinnamon and mix until light and creamy with a handheld mixer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until firm and fluffy.
  3. Add ½ cup of the whipped cream to the cheese mixture and fold in.
  4. Spread a thin layer of the cannoli mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.
  5. Line with graham crackers and add dollops of the cheese mixture on top. 
  6. Carefully spread the cheese mixture all over the graham crackers.  Try to have about a ¼ inch layer of cheese.
  7. Place graham crackers on top, but do not press down.  Continue until all the cheese spread is finished.  Top with one final of graham crackers.
  8. Spread reserved whipped cream on top and sprinkle with chocolate chips and cinnamon.
  9. Place in the fridge for 8 hours minimum.

Recipe for Anna's Tiramisu Icebox Cake

For the tiramisu version, follow the cannoli recipe but omit the cinnamon and chocolate chips. Lightly dip the graham crackers in cold coffee. Add 1 teaspoon coffee liquor to the filling and top with cocoa powder.

Anna Gass