My pick! Woohoo! I chose this recipe because I had never made an icebox cake. Plus, “icebox” is a cool, old fashioned word. Like “davenport,” “whippersnapper,” or “boob tube.”
Thursday night I was home, bored, and decided to go ahead and make the recipe, as I was hoping to serve it on Mother’s Day and I had a busy weekend planned.
Friday night we attended a chorus concert. When my daughter Rea told us about it, she said “We are singing theme songs from television shows, like old shows you watched growing up. Like ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Green Acres.’” Exactly what year does my daughter think I was born?
I read over the recipe, then prepared the vanilla wafer crust and baked it for twelve minutes.
I’m not sure where my brain was while I was making this recipe. I messed up, more than once. First, separating the eggs, I got yolk in with the whites, twice, and had to dump them. Then I used my lemon squeezer thing (I hate juicing lemons by hand) and managed to dump the seeds into the juice.
I whisked the condensed milk, lemon zest and salt with the egg yolks over simmering water. Then I noticed my measuring cup of lemon juice on the counter and poured it in. Seeds and all! Crap. Do I abandon whisking to grab a spoon and have my egg mixture become lemony, sweetened scrambled eggs? Or try to pick them out by hand?
I ended up with lemon-scented sticky fingers. (Hmmm.. that sounds delicious, “Lemon Scented Sticky Fingers,” now with less seeds!)
I whisked the now (hopefully) seedless mixture for about twelve minutes. Unfortunately, I was watching for “light and foamy” rather than “thick and fluffy,” so I fear I may have removed the concoction from the heat too soon.
I poured the egg mixture onto crust in the springform pan.
I was supposed to set aside the egg yolk mixture, beat the egg whites (with cream of tartar and sugar) and THEN combine the two and add that mixture to the pan.
I was determined to turn my lemons into lemon icebox cake, so I proceeded with the recipe, beating the egg whites til they became meringue, gingerly adding half of it to the egg yolk mixture, attempting not to disrupt the crust.
I did my best, then poured the rest of the meringue on the top. Yes, “poured,” because I apparently also did not beat my egg whites for long enough and they were a little, uh, liquidy.
The pan went back in the oven for 10 minutes and the meringue came out wonderfully browned. Setting it on a cooling rack, I went to take a Tylenol PM, as I had a headache and hadn’t slept well the night before.
OH… that’s my excuse, a dull brain due to lack of sleep!
Rea arrived home from the neighbor’s house and we watched the new “Not-Project-Runway” fashion design show on Bravo with me barely staying awake. Luckily I remembered my cooling cake in the kitchen and went and wrapped it up. The bottom of the pan still felt a tad bit warm, but I just couldn’t stay up any longer.
When I arrived home from work on Friday I couldn’t wait to taste the cake. Despite my flubs it was fantastic! So fantastic there’s only about a third of it left for our Mother’s Day dinner!
I will definitely make this recipe again. The flubs were all me, not the recipe, which is really well written and really not difficult (see below.) It could also be pretty easily adapted; I can imagine making it a margarita cake for Memorial Day, using pretzels instead of the vanilla wafers in the crust and subbing lime for the lemon and adding a touch of rum extract.
Lemon Ice Box Cake p. 208 of the “Sweet Melissa Baking Book“
Makes one 9-inch cake.
3 tbs melted unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 40 cookies)
6 large eggs, separated
One 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 recipe Fresh Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)
Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the sides and base of a 9-inch spring form pan. Line the bottom with a 9″ round of parchment paper.
1. In a small bowl, pour the melted butter over the wafer crumbs and stir to combine.
2. Gently press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Do not pack in too tight. Bake for twelve minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
3. Increase the oven temp to 425 degrees F.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, condensed milk, salt, lemon juice, and the zest.
5. Set the mixture over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water. Cook, whisking continuously until thick and fluffy, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. In a slow, steady stream, add the sugar, beating until the whites are stiff and glossy peaks of meringue.
7. Gently fold half the meringue into the lemon mixture. Pour the mixture into the baked crust. Spread the remaining meringue evenly over the lemon mixture, not letting it touch the sides of the pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the meringue is nicely browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Do not remove or loosen the spring form pan. When cool, freeze, uncovered in its pan for at least 4 hours or overnight.
8. Slide a hot knife around the edges of the cake to loosen. Remove the springform reing to unmold the cake. To release the bottom invert the cake onto a flat plate and remove the bottom and the parchment round. Turn right side up onto a serving plate. Serve frozen with the fresh strawberry sauce. The cake keeps frozen lightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks.
Fresh Strawberry Sauce, p. 210
Makes about 1 cup sauce
1 dry pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbs cold water
1. In a food processor or blender, puree the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.
2. Strain the berry mixture into a clean bowl and discard the seeds. Stir in additional sugar, if needed.
3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
I hope everyone really enjoyed this recipe, and most of all, that everyone is having a lovely Mother’s Day.