This recipe was one of those weird ideas that I wasn't sure would work.
When you troll the aisles of your local grocer on the reg, looking for creative ingredients to use in creative ways, you're not always sure if your whims will turn out edible. Sometimes they don't.
This one, however, did.
And except for the worrisome moment in the middle of cake-making, when teen daughter Becca walked into the kitchen and declared, "that is the ugliest cake I've ever seen" (it was. I was in the middle of figuring out decor, and this poor dear was sitting in a pretty horrid stage of unprettiness), this beautifully simple cake turned out to be a stunner.
Layers of pizzelle cookies, cherry-bourbon-fig-and-ginger sauce, fresh whipped honeyed cream. Total prep time rung in around 20 minutes, then it all goes off to the fridge for an overnight rest, during which the cookies soften into perfect little pieces of cake-like texture, hugged between layers of caramelly bourbon cherries and that sweet fresh whipped cream.
For my cake, I had a jar of Stonewall Kitchen Ginger-Fig jam, a deeply rich, mildly sweet jam which was just begging to be sauced up with bourbon and cherries. If you can't find such, do not despair. Cherry or berry jam, even orange marmalade will do.
And if you can't find packs of pizzelle cookies (I purchased mine from Whole Foods, where I can always find them plentifully), feel free to swap in vanilla wafers or even Destrooper Butter Crisps. The trick with icebox cakes is to work with a cookie thin enough to soak and soften overnight.
I've tried them with 1/2" thick shortbreads, and disaster occurs. So, keep to the thin wafers.
We've been blessed here with an abundance of New Zealand cherries this winter. If you're having a hard time hunting down cherries, blackberries would make a beautiful swap.
If you're using cherries, do not omit the pistachios. Flavor combo here is inspired, you must have it in your life.
And finally, if you have a hankering for fresh flower decor, but feel worried (as some folks do), about utilizing only edible flowers, click here for a quick list of pretty options, simply keeping in mind that flowers selected in the same color wheel range as the cake itself makes for a beautiful end result. Reds, violets, maroons are all idea with this pretty dessert.
To serve, the cake slices best cold. Use a sharp knife and make one clean slice on each side. You'll come away with picture perfect pieces everytime. A lovely surprise, since not all icebox cakes slice so splendidly.
The bourbon, jam and honey flavors here elevate this cake to an elegant after-dinner dessert. It would cap off a meal of pork or pasta with splendid intrigue. It's not overly sweet, so would also make a fine addition to any brunch table.
Paired with coffee or tea, I think you'll find yourself melting into pure silence, from the sheer enjoyment of every bite.
It'll just be you, your favorite friends, all sitting around in breathless quiet, as you forkful bite after bite.
Yes, this sweet treat may be a conversation starter at the beginning of a party. But once sliced, it's a conversation ender.
Just: bite. Mmmm. Bite. Mmmmm.
You've been warned. ;)
No-Bake Cherry Bourbon & Pizzelle Icebox Cake
6 servings | 2 hours prep | 24 hours total
- 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1 (12 oz) jar Stonewall Fig & Ginger Jam (cherry jam or orange marmalade also work)
- 1/3 cup bourbon or Luxardo liqueur
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 lb cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 (7 oz) package vanilla pizzelle cookies
- 1/4 cup crushed pistachios
Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form, add honey and beat just until stiff and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a small pot, heat together jam, bourbon and water, cooking just until jam is melted and mixture begins to boil. Toss in cherries, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Set aside a little less than half of the mixture.
Arrange a layer of 8 pizzelle cookies atop a cake plate. Drizzle with a small amount of cherry mixture, top with a thin, even layer of cream, then repeat layers of pizzelles, cherry sauce and cream, until all are used. Spread a final layer of cream on top.
Cover gently with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, heat remaining cherry sauce and drizzle on top. Garnish with flowers or cherries, if desired. Sprinkle with pistachios.