mocha chocolate icebox cake

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake (adapted from Ina Garten, 2010, Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?)
It’s AJ’s birthday today. So last night I made this cake and popped it in the refrigerator to chill overnight. It is extraordinarily easy to make, just cream and cookies. The cookies must be thin and crisp, like Tate’s Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies. I used chocolate chip, but vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies would do fine.

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 12 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
Level:  Easy
Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients
2 cups cold heavy cream
12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese (see Cake Baker’s Note)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur or espresso coffee (see Cake Baker’s Note)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (7-ounce) packages thin and crisp chocolate chip cookies
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish

Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, coffee liqueur or espresso coffee, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. Break some cookies to fill the spaces. Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies, spreading the cream to the edge as level as possible. Place another layer of cookies on top, so they lie flat and touch, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

To unmold the cake, run a thin sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut cake in wedges, and serve cold.

Cake Baker’s Notes:

  • Coffee Liqueur – To replace 2 tablespoons of liqueur, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chocolate extract mixed with 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, which has been mixed in 2 tablespoons of water. Can also substitute espresso, non-alcoholic coffee extract or coffee syrup. To make espresso coffee, mix 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder to 2 oz hot water. Cool before adding to the ingredients.
  • Mascarpone Cheese– An Italian cream cheese, mascarpone is expensive and difficult to find. You can make this mascarpone substitute from allrecipes.com:
    • 1x8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • Mix together all ingredients until well blended. Use instead of mascarpone cheese in recipes.

espresso coffee chiffon cake with chocolate glaze

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake
This cake is my mother-in-law’s recipe. It is a long-time family favorite always requested at birthdays and other special occasions. I usually bake it at least once a year. I’ve altered the recipe with the addition of a teaspoon of cocoa powder for I find chocolate intensifies the coffee flavor.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 55-60 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour (2 cups plus 4 tablespoons cake flour)
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, optional
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Whip egg whites. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed until blended. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky. There’s no need to clean the beaters for the next step.

Make the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder if using, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened.

Combine the batter and whipped whites. Scrape the batter into the whipped egg whites. By hand gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Cut the center of the batter with a spatula and drag it along the bottom to the side of the bowl then turn the spatula over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat the process until the batter and whipped egg whites are blended. When white streaks remain, stop mixing. Pour batter mixture into an ungreased tube cake pan. Cut the batter with a sharp thin blade to eliminate air pockets.

Bake and unmold the cake. Bake 55-60 minutes. If the pan has no “feet” invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Cool thoroughly before unmolding and frosting. To unmold, use a sharp thin blade to loosen the sides. Push straight down and forward, away from the side. Remove the knife and repeat. To loosen the center, use a skewer, applying the same motion. Gently remove the sides of the pan. Then support the cake with the center-piece in one hand; this prevents the bottom from tearing as you release the cake.  Insert the blade between the bottom of the pan and the cake, applying the same motion. Remove the center-piece.

When the cake is cooled frost it, if desired. Or pour on a chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze (from America’s Test Kitchen)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 minutes
Standing Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream, hot
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preparation
Heat the cream on medium low heat in a small saucepan until it bubbles, 3-5 minutes. Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the milk. Whisk all ingredients until smooth and let it sit until thickened, about 25 minutes. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let the glaze set before serving, about 25 minutes.

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake

This chiffon cake was my mother-in-law’s specialty. Before she became ill, she was a wonderful cook and baker. She taught me how to make ground meat lettuce wraps, a dish with bean threads I fancifully called “ants climbing a tree,” and this chiffon cake. I remember how it was always light and airy with the caress of coffee and sweetness.

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake

7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325˚F. I recommend using a two-piece tube cake pan because it is easier to remove the cake. However, at my mother’s house, I only had a one piece pan. Do not grease the tube cake pan.

Put egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened. There’s no need to clean the beaters first.

By hand gently fold egg mixture into beaten egg whites. Do not over mix. It is all right if streaks of white and brown remain. Pour batter  into the ungreased tube cake pan. Use a sharp thin blade to cut the batter several times to eliminate air pockets. Bake 55-60 minutes. Invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Make sure the cake is cooled thoroughly before attempting to remove it from the pan. This should take about two hours.

To remove the cake from a tube pan, run a sharp thin blade around the outer rim and around the tube in the middle. Hold the one-piece tube pan over a large plate and gently tap the bottom and sides. The cake should fall out into the plate. For a two piece pan, do the same as above.  Remove the sides then insert the blade between the pan bottom and the cake to release it. Frost cooled cake with a chocolate butter cream frosting, if desired.

Slice of Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake with Berries