i have a penchant for complicating things (“lazy” waffles with a bunch of self-imposed rules about ingredients and techniques, anyone?) but sometimes? sometimes you just need a quick, back pocket recipe that you know is going to work. one that doesn’t require trips to three different stores. one that you can make now and serve later. and bonus points if it makes you look like a fancy dessert maker person, when in fact all you did is layer 2 things together and sprinkle on a bit of tasty decoration.
this easy 4 ingredient gingersnap icebox cake is my back pocket holiday dessert ace.
step one: buy gingersnaps and heavy cream (and a bit of crystallized ginger, if you don’t have any leftover from making these chewy ginger cookies).
step two: whip cream.
step three: layer cookies and whipped cream on a nice plate. refrigerate.
step four: serve/congratulate self on fancy dessert making skills.
did i try to complicate this? well, yes, of course (hiiii ginger-infused heavy cream for turning into whipped cream!) BUT, in the end i resisted because a) that defeats the purpose of having a simple recipe and b) this gingersnap icebox cake truly doesn’t need to be fancy to be delicious.
plus, since this recipe was inspired by my husband, who has a strictly-enforced 3 ingredients or fewer rule for anything he cooks (wellll, he makes an exception for mug brownies, though he has been known to lament how “difficult” they are to prepare…), keeping this gingersnap icebox cake simple seemed like the right thing to do.
besides being simple, another nice thing about this gingersnap icebox cake is that it’s happy to operate on your timeline. as long as you can slap it together at least two hours before you want to serve it so that the gingersnaps have time to soften, this cake is pretty happy to hang out in the fridge until you need it. leftovers from the tester cake lasted several days in the fridge.
after a few days, i probably wouldn’t serve the cake to guests and expect a lot of praise for how pretty it looked, but it still tasted good (and no, the whipped cream doesn’t destabilize and get funny). so if you have an ambitious holiday menu ahead of you, this gingersnap icebox cake can alleviate some of the last minute crunch. which is a pretty nice holiday gift, i’d say.
easy 4 ingredient gingersnap icebox cake
- 1 pint (16 fl. oz. / 473 ml) cold heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 9 oz. (255 g.) thin gingersnaps, see notes
- 1 tablespoon (1/4 oz. / 9 g.) diced crystallized ginger
- in the bowl of an electric mixer, ideally with a splash guard or dish towel draped over the mixer, whip the cream on the highest speed with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary, and add the vanilla. turn the mixer back on at high speed to finish whipping the cream. whip just until the cream is capable of holding stiff peaks, not beyond that when it starts to get lumpy and weird. watch carefully as the transition is pretty quick.
- spread a thin layer of whipped cream in the center of your serving plate to hold the first layer of cookies in place. put one cookie in the center of the plate then arrange 6 cookies evenly around the center cookie, close together but not quite touching (see photo above). as you can see, if you have chipped/broken cookies and not enough spares to leave those ones out, you can use them facing in and no one will be the wiser. once you have the cookies in place, carefully spread a layer of whipped cream over the cookies. continue layering the cookies and whipped cream, ending with a layer of whipped cream. sprinkle the diced crystallized ginger across the top decoratively (i sprinkled it around the perimeter).
- cover and refrigerate for at least two hours (up to overnight) to allow the cookies to soften so you can slice the cake. to serve, cut with a sharp knife (i used a bread knife and serve chilled. leftovers keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator, though after a few days, they won’t look quite as nice.
gingersnaps i enjoyed the gingersnaps from trader joe’s. they have a nice gingery kick and don’t have too many junky ingredients, as far as store bought cookies go.
whipped cream i intentionally didn’t sweeten the whipped cream since the cookies provide plenty of sweetness in the finished cake and i liked having a little bit of contrast, rather than sweet overload.
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