Eggnog Icebox Cake: Vertical layers of eggnog whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookies update the classic icebox cake into a showstopper of a holiday dessert!
I realize that you’re probably not thinking about icebox cake in the middle of December but hear me out, friends!
This is an EGGNOG icebox cake! And if you’re as big an eggnog fan as I am, you’re going to fall hard for this icebox cake recipe.
I’ve been working the idea for this cake around in my head for the past few Christmas seasons. It’s been a few years since I first made my peppermint icebox cupcakes and ever since, I’ve had an old fashioned icebox cake on my mind.
What is an Icebox Cake?
Icebox cake is a cake made of layers of crispy chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream. Once assembled, the cake is refrigerated to allow the whipped cream to soften the cookies into a cake-like texture.
Eggnog Icebox Cake
So, it’s the holiday season and over here, we’re deep into all things gingerbread, mistletoe, and eggnog! I’ve been working the idea of this eggnog icebox cake out in my brain for a couple of years and I finally decided it was TIME TO MAKE IT!
While this may look like a challenging cake to make, you won’t believe what an easy Christmas dessert this is! And better yet, it’s a make ahead dessert recipe that doesn’t require much refrigerator space!
The whipped cream filling for this cake is a crazy easy one made with heavy cream and yes, eggnog! The eggnog whips up with the cream like a dream but this eggnog whipped cream wouldn’t be complete without a little eggnog-y spice, right?
We ever so slightly flavored the whipped cream with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and boy did this make a difference in giving the eggnog a bolder punch in the whipped cream!
For the chocolate wafer layers of this cake, I went back to my favorite chocolate wafer cookie recipe. It’s one I’ve made many times before and I knew the chocolate wafers would be utterly perfect in this cake.
And yes, you can certainly buy a package of Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies but I know they can sometimes be difficult to find in the U.S. and virtually impossible to find outside of the U.S.
So, make your own! They’re incredibly easy to make, they’re absolutely delicious, and they make the best chocolate wafer icebox cakes ever!
Nontraditional Icebox Cake
This recipe isn’t for a conventional icebox cake that’s made with layers of chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream stacked up in a cake shape. Nope nope nope!
Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen a transition of the classic icebox cake form into an icebox cake made with full-on cake size layers of chocolate wafer cookies to vertical cake layers, like you see here today. The icebox cakes with these vertical layers are sometimes referred to as zebra cakes since the layers look like zebra stripes.
Zoë François, of Zoe Bakes and Bread in 5 Minutes fame, has one of the most beautiful vertically stacked icebox cakes I’ve ever seen and every time I see it, I just about gasp. It’s that icebox cake that inspired this one and I’m so excited to share my long-time-coming recipe with you now.
For this vertical icebox cake, you’ll first line a loaf pan with plastic wrap then add a layer of the eggnog filling to the bottom of the pan.
Next, line the sides of the pan with chocolate wafers and nestle 3 rows of cookies into the bottom layer of eggnog filling (4 cookies per row). Fill in the spaces with the remaining eggnog filling and smooth out the top.
You’ll refrigerate the cake overnight or up to 24 hours to allow the eggnog whipped cream to do its thing to soften the cookies. Before serving, make some regular whipped cream, remove the cake from the pan, frost, and freeze for another couple of hours.
We completely adored this eggnog icebox cake every bit as much as we adored my eggnog cake from years ago. We LOVE eggnog so this was a natural choice for me to make an easy holiday dessert recipe that’s just a little more special than a cookie platter. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a cookie platter!!)
Can Icebox Cake be Made with Cool Whip?
Technically, yes, you can make an icebox cake with Cool Whip or another frozen whipped topping. I’ve eaten many an icebox cake growing up that were made with Cool Whip.
Do I recommend it? No.
There’s just no comparison between frozen whipped toppings and real whipped cream! The flavors, consistencies, and not to mention ingredients, are all completely different and in my opinion, you just can’t beat real whipped cream in an icebox cake.
Whipped cream literally takes no more than 3 minutes to make and that’s WAY faster than it takes to thaw a tub of frozen whipped topping.
How Long to Refrigerate an Icebox Cake?
An icebox cake needs to be refrigerated at least 12 hours before you attempt to cut it. It’s the kind of cake you want to be patient with so if you can give it a full 24 hours in the fridge, that would be even better.
Without refrigerating an icebox cake, you would not be able to cut through the cookie layers since the cookies are crispy. Cutting through crispy cookies means they would crumble or smoosh the whipped cream and other layers all over the place.
Leftover icebox cake cake be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. After this point, the whipped cream starts to get a little “weepy” and it starts to lose its creamy consistency.
Can you Freeze an Icebox Cake?
Yes! You can definitely freeze an icebox cake. Whipped cream needs to stay cold in order to keep its firmness. If your kitchen is too warm, you’ll immediately see that your whipped cream becomes soft quickly.
If this happens, you can stick your cake in the freezer while you build it in order to keep the whipped cream from smooshing out from between the wafer cookie layers.
You can also freeze an icebox cake after it has been fully assembled in order to help the whipped cream set up and stay firm longer after you cut and serve it.
I hope you love this icebox cake as much as we did! It’s a breeze to assemble and a showstopper kind of holiday dessert when you cut it into slices! Enjoy!!
- About 2 dozen chocolate wafer cookies*
For the eggnog filling:
- 2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
- 6 tbsp eggnog
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Heavy ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of Kosher salt
For the frosting and piping whipped cream:
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream or whipping cream
- ¼ granulated sugar
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Sprinkle of ground nutmeg for serving
- To make the eggnog filling: Starting on the lowest speed and gradually increasing to high, whip all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes, until the cream is thick with soft peaks.
- To assemble the icebox cake: Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch loaf pan with a piece of plastic wrap that is long enough to overhang all of the sides of the pan. Spread a layer of the eggnog filling (about ½-inch high) on the bottom of the pan. Line the sides of the pan with cookies with the cookies pressed down into the filling to the bottom of the pan.
- Line up 12 cookies in 3 horizontal rows (4 cookies per row) across the width of the pan. Spoon eggnog filling between each of the cookies.
- Cover the cookies completely with the remaining eggnog filling. Cover the cake with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the whipped cream for frosting and decorating: At least 2 hours before serving time, add the whipped cream ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer. Starting on the lowest speed and gradually increasing to high, whip for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the cream is very thick with stiff peaks.
- Take the loaf pan out of the fridge and remove the piece of plastic wrap on top. Invert the loaf pan onto a serving platter and carefully peel off the remaining plastic wrap.
- Frost the outside and top of the cake with the whipped cream. If you wish, add the remaining whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe swirls around the outside edge of the top of the cake. (Or pipe whatever design you're feeling that day!) You may need to stick the piping bag and the cake in the freezer for a few minutes to allow the whipped cream to remain cold as you're frosting and piping. I found that running my hands under very cold water before picking up the filled piping bag prevented the whipped cream from getting warm too quickly.
- Once frosted and piped, sprinkle a very light dusting of ground nutmeg over the top of the piped whipped cream and immediately place the cake in the freezer. Freeze for 2 to 4 hours before serving. When you're ready to serve, the let the cake stand for 15 minutes at room temperature before slicing with a sharp knife.
*If you're feeling ambitious, make your own cookies. It's an easy dough to make, which can be chilled days ahead of baking time. And the cookies are PHENOMENAL. There's just no comparison to store-bought chocolate wafer cookies.
However, I'm sure no one will be judging you if you buy the cookies for this recipe since they'll all be stuffing their mouths with eggnog whipped cream anyway.
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