A S'mores Icebox Cake is the ultimate summer dessert. An easy no-bake treat, this cake is made up of layers of graham crackers, tangy marshmallow cream, and a silky chocolate ganache. Completed with all the makings of a s'more and toasted up for everyone to enjoy. It's perfect to feed a crowd, or to make ahead of time and portion out for an after dinner dessert.
S'mores Icebox Cake
Imagine a s'mores meets a cake and a cheesecake: imaginations do come true with this easy No-Bake Smore's Icebox Cake. This simple summer dessert is a mouth-watering mash-up of all the classic s'mores flavors--graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate--transformed into an easy cake-like treat. It is impressive looking and entirely fool-proof to make. It is a definite recipe to have on hand when the weather is just too dang hot to fire up the oven or even the grill.
But first, what is an icebox cake?
An icebox cake is a no-bake dessert made from a few simple ingredients. Often times, icebox cakes have graham crackers or some other cookie element that is layered with cream and other ingredients. The dessert rests in the freezer or the refrigerator for a period of time, which allows the graham crackers to soften as they soak up the sweet cream. It truly makes this dessert taste and feel like a cake, thanks to the texture and feel of the ingredients perfectly coming together.
- graham crackers
- marshmallow fluff
- milk or dark chocolate
- heavy cream
- cream cheese
- granulated sugar
There aren't many ingredients to this icebox cake. With that said, there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room for substitutions. However, you do have your choice of using milk or dark chocolate. Milk chocolate adds that classic s'mores taste, but dark chocolate adds an element of refinement to this dessert. It's entirely your choice.
As for the Marshmallow Fluff, I truly recommend sticking with the name brand. It has a great flavor and texture with minimal ingredients.
- electric mixer
- off-set spatula
- 9" square straight-sided cake pan
- baking basics: small pot, bowls, whisk
Let's take a minute to talk about the type of pan used to create this prize. Icebox cake really doesn't need to have any special type of shape, but I really love the idea of having a long and tall cake for this dessert. It makes it look spectacular, and makes a simple dish look extravagant. To achieve this shape, I made the cake in a square container, and then cut the dessert in half and stacked the two halves on top of one other. This allowed for less time spent layering the dessert while still accomplishing the towering outcome. I have a special no-bake square pan that has collapsible sides to make this, but just a standard square pan will work just fine. If you don't have a square baking tin, you can also make this dessert in a loaf pan! Or, simply leave it as a flat cake. Either way, it's going to be super delicious. Don't spend too much time thinking about what vessel you'll assemble the cake in, and just use what you have.
How to Make an Ice Box Cake
Traditionally, these cakes don't involve much more than assembling the ingredients. For this S'mores version, the recipe calls for making a quick silky ganache, whipping together the marshmallow filling, and then assembling. For this cake, the recipe calls for making the dessert in a square baking dish, then cutting and stacking the cake right before assembly.
Here are the layers of the cake:
- graham crackers
- marshmallow filling
- chocolate ganache
- graham crackers
- marshmallow filling
- chocolate ganache
- half graham cracker layer (because it will be sliced and stacked after chilling)
- finally, slice in half and stack for a 13 layer cake
Here are some tips for making it:
- Let the ganache cool a bit before using it. If the ganache is very hot, the liquid will be too thin and the dessert won't keep it's distinctive layers. To speed up the cooling time, you can place the ganache in the refrigerator to chill while assembling the rest of the ingredients.
- Don't overwhip or under whip the cream! You want the cream to be just right: stiff enough that it's going to lighten the cream cheese and fluff mixture, but not so stiff that it starts to curdle. You'll still be able to taste that slightly curdled cream in the final dish, so pay attention during the whipping of the cream. Want more information on whipping cream? Check out this post all about Whipping Cream.
- For extra distinct layers, you can freeze the dessert between the spreading of the marshmallow and chocolate mixtures, though this isn't necessary.
- Make sure to tightly layer in the graham crackers, leaving little to no space between each cracker. The graham crackers are what makes this recipe cake-like, so don't skip out on them. Use a knife to slice them cleanly to fit into the space of your container.
- Don't skip the chilling time! Chilling the cake in the refrigerator overnight is what transforms this dish from a crunch graham cracker layer dessert to an icebox cake!
- Similarly, don't skip out on the freezing time before serving. Slightly freezing this cake directly before serving makes it easier to handle when you are removing the icebox cake from the tin, and when you are going in to cut it and decorate it.
- Torch it! If you have a culinary kitchen torch, go ahead and use it on the top. Adding in the graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate garnish on top really gives this dessert that s'more authenticity, especially when toasted.
Freezer Vs. Refrigerator
This recipe initially calls for chilling the icebox cake in the refrigerator, preferably overnight, and then briefly chilling the cake in the freezer before serving. While a little bit fussy, this step is important, and should not be skipped, as it will compromise the texture of the dessert.
Letting the cake chill in the refrigerator transforms this dessert from a crunchy graham cracker layered dessert to a cake, as the crackers soak up the cream and soften. If you immediately transfer the icebox cake the freezer, instead of soaking up the cream, it freezes, and so when you defrost it, it will still be a bit crunchy.
The reason this recipe calls for a quick chill in the freezer before serving is because having the cake chilled makes it sturdier to cut in half, stack, and garnish. This step is optional, as you don't even have to stack them if you don't want to, but this is a trick that makes it easier to handle the dessert.
How to Garnish It
I recommend garnishing the top of the cake with a layer of marshmallow fluff, as well as some mini marsmallows, pieces of chocolate, and graham cracker. If possible, you'll want to toast them with a kitchen torch. It really adds a nice effect to the final dish.
How to Serve and Store an Ice Box Cake
Once the icebox cake has softened overnight, it is best served within 1-2 days. Simply slice, serve, and enjoy.
However, this cake freezes exceptionally well. Once it has softened, you can freeze this entire cake, or freeze it in slices in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To defrost, simply leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use a square baking container?
No! You can truly assemble this cake in any baking tin you have. You can change the shape. You'll just modify the recipe by changing the amount of layers you have.
Do I need to stack this cake to make a long and tall layer cake?
No! Just like you can use any vessel to assemble this, you do not need to stack it. I choose to stack it because it is aesthetically pleasing.
Can I make my own marshmallow creme?
Yes. In fact, I have a recipe for Swiss Meringue that will work perfectly here. But I do recommend the use of marshmallow fluff for this recipe.
Do I need to freeze it before serving?
You can skip that step if you want, but it makes it easier to handle. The most important chilling aspect is making sure it rests in the refrigerator to allow the cookies to soften.
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