July 10, 2013

Black Forest Icebox Cake

We've been having a heat wave over in New Jersey. It's been so hot, I haven't wanted to turn the oven on. And that's like, me not wanting to bake? Inconceivable!

(You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.)

But I had to satisfy my dessert-making cravings somehow, and since my ice cream maker was ousted from the freezer because of a lack of room, that meant ice cream was out of the question.

So what's a girl to do but make her most favoritest no-bake treat in the whole wide world? That's right, it's time for icebox cakes!!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *Kermit flail*
(Sometimes I worry about how much I love these things. Then I make one and worry about how little I loved them before.)

I've been playing around with the idea for a Black Forest icebox cake for a while. After all, what is Black Forest Cake, but chocolate cake, cherry filling, and whipped cream? Replace the chocolate cake with chocolate cookies, stick it in the refrigerator for a few hours, and you have an icebox cake. I haven't made it before now because I kept forgetting to buy canned cherries (easier to make a filling with, and fresh cherries don't last long enough in my house to make something with) (you could use cherry pie filling, but the canned stuff is too bright and tastes artificial, and as for making my own, see the previous parenthetical comment.)
Normally I go to the park or take a walk or sit outside and read on my lunch break, but it was way too hot for any of that this past week. And since there is a grocery store a short drive from my office, what better way to spend the time than buying ingredients for an icebox cake?

I have to say, though, that grocery store is big and clean and nice and has a great salad/hot food bar, and all sorts of organic and specialty diet options, so it totally lulled me into thinking that it would have a great selection for scratch cooks.

It does not. It is a grocery store for hipsters who like to pretend to be all gourmet and up on foodie trends and eco-friendly, but don't actually like to cook. The baking aisle is so limited (mostly mixes, to be honest), and they didn't even carry unflavored gelatin until recently. Nor could I find plain chocolate wafer cookies. They had Oreos and off-brand Oreos galore (though not much in the way of other cookies), but not plain wafers. What is up with that?
I ended up getting chocolate graham crackers. Those, at least, they had, and I did not fancy baking my own or scraping the filling out of the Oreos. And I ended up really liking the graham crackers. I think the chocolate ones taste more cake-like after softening than the regular grahams, too.

I also added a little red wine to the cherries, because the cherries are traditionally soaked in kirsch for Black Forest cake. I do not have kirsch, but I had a bottle of Malbec with only a little bit left in it. This was a last minute decision, and totally optional
There's no point to ganache if you don't let it drip down the sides.
And because I'm fancy, I poured some ganache on top. And then I let the rest set, whipped it, and piped ganache rosettes, so the cherries on top would have little chocolate thrones. And ended up with the PRETTIEST CAKE EVAAAAAAA!

And tastiest. Because you can't go wrong with cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream. And you can NEVER go wrong with an icebox cake. Word.
Black Forest Icebox Cake
Yield: 8-10 servings

For the cherry filling:
1 (15 oz.) can sweet cherries in heavy syrup
1/4 cup fruity red wine (optional)*
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. sugar

For the cake:
1½ cups whipping cream, chilled
1½ tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 box chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies

For the ganache:
6 oz. milk chocolate, chopped**
6 oz. heavy cream

Chocolate sprinkles, and more cherries, for decorating

Prepare the filling: Dice the cherries into quarters. Add all ingredients to a saucepan. Heat on low, mixing until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Continue to heat until the mixture is thickened and can coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Prepare the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters, whip together the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spread some of the whipped cream evenly in the bottom of the loaf pan, about ¼ inch thick. Place a row of graham crackers over the whipped cream, filling as much space as possible. Spread a layer of cherry filling on top. Top with another layer of graham crackers and spread with more whipped cream. Repeat, alternating between the cherry filling and whipped cream until the top of the loaf pan is reached, ending with the whipped cream. Refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight.

Prepare the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over low until boiling, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Assemble: Invert the loaf pan over a serving dish to release the cake (it should pop right out). Frost the sides with the remaining whipped cream, decorate with sprinkles, if desired, and pour about 1/2-2/3 of the ganache on top. Allow the remaining ganache to come to room temperature (it seem solid), then whip on high with an electric beater. Pipe the whipped ganache on top of the cake in rosettes, then top with more cherries. Serve chilled.

Tip: You can also make a freeform cake. Just line the serving dish with graham crackers and layer from there.

*Traditionally, the cherries for Black Forest Cake are soaked in kirsch. I did not have any, so I used wine instead. Feel free to skip.

**I originally used bittersweet chocolate, but it overpowered the cake. Milk chocolate has a much milder flavor. However, feel free to use your favorite

Recipe by Kim

This recipe is featured on Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party