When it is hot and muggy, but you want a dessert to impress this S’mores Icebox Cake is the exact answer. All the things one loves about the classic summer camping dessert without the fire (okay, just a bit of blowtorching, but that’s too fun to resist). Graham crackers layered with caramel cream, covered in chocolate ganache, with a sprinkle of peanuts (needed the crunch and salty bits) and then topped off with toasted meringue. No baking!
- 25 whole graham crackers about 3 packages – some will break, so this may be a touch extra or use homemade*
Caramel Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp corn syrup – prevents crystalizing
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 lb semisweet or bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
- 1/4 cup crushed salted, roasted peanuts (optional, but super tasty)
- 2 cups egg whites
- 4 cups (800g) sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
To make the caramel whipped cream
- In a large saucepan put the sugar in a mound in the center of the pan, be sure it doesn’t hit the sides. Gently add the water and corn syrup, making sure the sugar doesn’t splash up on the sides of the pan.
- If any of the sugar is not dissolved, very gently stir, but make sure none of the sugar hits the sides of the pan. (All of this care to keep the sugar off the side of the pan will prevent your sugar from crystallizing while it cooks.)
- Cook over high heat, without stirring. When the sugar starts to color on the edges, gently stir the sugar. Until it is quite dark, it will smoke a bit. I like my caramel very dark, with an almost bitter edge.
- Once the caramel is dark in color, reduce the heat and add half the cream. The caramel will sputter and seize up, which is normal. Gently whisk the caramel until the caramelized sugar dissolves. Add the remaining cream and stir.
- Strain the caramel cream into a shallow container. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours (the cream needs to be thoroughly chilled and thick before whipping. You can throw it into the freezer for 15 minutes before refrigerating to speed this up a bit, but make sure it is chilled throughout). Can be made the day ahead.
- Line an 8×4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, set aside. In the instagram video I used a small pullman pan because it has straighter sides.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the chilled caramel cream until very soft, slouchy, peaks. Be sure NOT to whip the cream in a plastic bowl or it may not whip properly. Reserve the remaining 1/3 of the cream for topping the cake. Whip cream on a lower speed for a longer time. If you whip the cream on medium speed, instead of high, you will have a smaller air bubble and the cream will have more stability. This will also prevent some over whipping.
To Assemble the Icebox Cake
- Coat the bottom of the prepared pan with about a ¼-inch-thick layer of the cream. Line the outside of the pan with the graham crackers.
- Spread a layer of the cream on each graham cracker and layer them together in the pan.
- You should end up with about 3 rows of graham crackers and cream. This may vary slightly depending on how large your graham crackers are.
- Cover the top with more of the cream, so the graham crackers are completely covered. Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Invert the icebox cake onto a serving platter. Cover and return to the refrigerator.
To make the ganache:
- In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and butter. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then stir gently, until totally smooth. Allow to sit for about 15-30 minutes until it is thick enough that it will cling to the cake, but still liquid enough to pour.
- Place the chilled icebox cake on a cooling rack that is sitting above a baking sheet, lined with parchment. This will catch the excess ganache.
- Pour the ganache in a steady stream over the cake until it is totally covered. Let it sit for a few minutes to drip. Run a metal spatula around the bottom of the cake to remove it from the cooling rack without tearing the ganache. Transfer it to a serving plate, sprinkle with the peanuts and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To make the Swiss Meringue:
- Bring about an inch of water in a saucepan to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until it is hot and all of the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place the bowl onto the stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until very think, glossy and stiff peaks when you lift the beater. Add vanilla and mix well.
- Cover the top of the cake with the meringue and set it ablaze with a blow torch to toast the meringue.