Why Not Just Eat Dessert First?

I am a huge fan of dessert. In fact, if given the choice, I'd eat it first. But while baking is my typical modus operandi, when the temperature heads toward the thermonuclear zone, my feelings lean less toward baking and more toward how cold can I make dessert?

Take the quaintly named icebox cake. For those of us not born before the 1930s, an ice box is the storage unit that was the precursor to the refrigerator. Big blocks of ice were delivered to houses and placed in the "ice box" to help keep food cold.

But ice-box cake is a slight misnomer. It's usually a dessert that contains custard or whip­ped cream layered between cake, graham crackers or cookies. These layers "firm up" in the fridge for several hours or over­night, forming a single, luscious cake-like dessert.

Most of the following recipes are quite flexible and forgiving when it comes to ingredients. Hate strawberries? Use raspberries or blackberries. Don't like chocolate cookies? Use vanilla or pecan ones. Lactose intolerant? Get the nondairy whipped topping.

Chocolate Crust Lemon Raspberry Ice-Box Cake

1 chocolate cookie pie crust (9-inch), store bought or homemade

Filling Ingredients:

2 (3 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened (do not use low or no fat)
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

1 and 1/2 pints fresh raspberry (more for garnish if you like)
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsps. powdered sugar, sifted

In a bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk. Beat or process smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the lemon juice and continue beating for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and then spoon the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

When you're ready to serve, sprinkle 1 pint of the berries over the top. Then in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until it has soft peaks. Add in the powdered sugar and remaining raspberries and beat until the mixture has stiff peaks.

Gently spread the raspberry whipped cream over the raspberries on the top of the cake. Slice and serve right away, garnishing each slice with additional raspberries.



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