Ten months ago, I attempted to make a cake I had seen on the Martha Stewart website. It didn’t go so well. It begins innocently.I see something pretty and say to myself, I can do that. The problem is… I really can’t. Epic Fall Fail Cake turned out to be one of my most popular posts and worst cakes – until now.
The Very Beginning
I’m addicted to a TV show on HBO called The Newsroom. Eric and I enjoy Aaron Sorkin’s writing and the acting on the show is brilliant. I’d love to be on the set and watch how the actors practice the rhythm of the dialogue. It’s quick and oh so much fun to listen to. Then I found some plays Jeff Daniels wrote that I bought years ago when we stayed in Michigan for a summer (Jeff Daniels stars in The Newsroom). Finding the plays reminded me how much I enjoyed reading plays. I went to the library and took out Wendy Wasserstein’s: An American Daughter. In it one of the characters talks about her mother being proud of her icebox cakes.This sent me to the computer to research. What was an icebox cake? A cake made of cookies and layers of whipped cream that is refrigerated and not baked. Sounds easy. See how it all connects? And that’s my crazy way of getting ideas for this blog. Crazy ideas like making icebox cakes.
I went back and peeked at the Epic Fail Fall Cake post and laughed (it’s better than crying). Even though it has been almost a year and my general writing habits have changed it seems when I’m a little apprehensive to try a new recipe I procrastinate all day and run for miles on the treadmill before I enter the kitchen. Last September mirrors the events of yesterday’s epic fail. Only somehow I was able to convince myself that the icebox cake wouldn’t be too hard and I talked on the phone for quite some time before pulling out all the ingredients at 9:15 pm. Still working on those time management skills.
Arielle, who had just come home from a four mile run was covered in dirt because she hit a crack in the sidewalk and flipped backwards into mud, however, she was ready and excited to help me with my cake. By the way, if anyone from the University of Illinois wheelchair track team is reading this feel free to lecture Arielle on the importance of wearing her helmet. Moms don’t like to hear stories about their daughters flipping backwards in their racing wheelchairs. Especially daughters who don’t wear helmets.
Where was I…
Basically, this icebox cake recipe called for vanilla wafers, strawberries, blueberries, sugar and heavy whipping cream. It included lemon zest too but somehow I still have two lemons sitting on my counter. Not sure what happened there.
Arielle and I thought we would get creative and add a layer of raspberries and cream to the recipe. We also wanted to do an Olympic themed cake and we bought pineapple rings for the top. We never made it to the top.
It started out easy. We hulled the strawberries and washed the raspberries.
Arielle beat the cream until it formed stiff peaks. Just like the recipe said.
Since our great idea was to add a raspberry flavored layer we took out some of the whipped cream and set it aside. How much? Oh, about a 1/4 cup. Then we grabbed the pureed strawberries. How many? Well, it’s hard to say. Both of us were putting the strawberries into the food processor and talking about decorations for her dorm room forgetting some of those strawberries were supposed to be used on the top of the cake. We poured in the strawberries. Yep, poured because of course it must mean the same thing as fold in.The sound of the mixer echoed off the walls. We waited… and waited… and waited for those stiff peaks to form. That’s when Arielle looked at me with questioning eyes. “Maybe we added too many strawberries?” Okay – pour in more cream. Right from the container. Just add it to the bowl. Balance. It’s all about balance. We waited… and waited. No stiff peaks.
Then Arielle suggested we add the whipped cream we took out for the raspberries. Why not? In it went and we waited and listened to the hum of the mixer.
At this point we started thinking of everything we could that would make those stiff peaks form. Cream cheese! Add it! Wait, check the expiration date. Okay, add it!
Powdered sugar! Add it!
No stiff peaks. That’s when I reached into the fridge and pulled this out…I think I said something about being a fool for not buying a container of Cool Whip. Please ignore all the shadows in the pictures. It was around midnight. My eyes were closing in between shots.
As the clocked ticked on - Arielle and I became giddy and more determined to see those stiff peaks.
Arielle insisted we add icing. The only icing I had in the pantry was peppermint – left over from the holidays. I made her use a separate bowl because when I told her it would be horrible she told me that Dr. Pepper was discovered by accident and it had 13 flavors.
“Go ahead. Try it.” I said smiling behind my camera.Really? Heavy cream, powdered sugar, whipped cream, pureed strawberries and seven month old peppermint icing all mixed together doesn’t taste good? She told me it was a bit like toothpaste and thick like Greek yogurt. “Hey yogurt! That’s what we need.”
Nope. Not even Greek yogurt could turn our soup stiff.
I was trying to think of everything possible we could do with this pink concoction. Smoothie? Ice cream? Finally, I decided to pretend it was thick and pour it over the vanilla wafers. Which were half gone because as we brainstormed we shoved them in our mouth.
There it is. Our masterpiece after four hours in the kitchen. I put it in the refrigerator overnight pretending it was a seven layer strawberry, raspberry, Olympic decorated icebox cake. Mmhmm, Wendy Wasserstein can I make a suggestion for your next play... no bake ums. They are so much easier than icebox cakes.
Just to save a little face Arielle and I created unique wafer cookies. We had the cream cheese with pureed raspberries.
And my favorite… nutella with raspberry puree.
Both of which were pretty darn good. Well, they were good at 1:30 in the am. while I stared at a sink full of dishes and felt the disappointment of four hours of work for a bowl of soup.
This morning I woke super early (had to – it’s band camp week) and tried my anti-icebox cake. It was kind of tasty. Kind of like a thick strawberry mousse with vanilla cake.
Arielle says we are doing this again. She’s choosing which icebox cake we are making next. I rolled my eyes. Sigh, “Fine! I’m going to keep two containers of Cool Whip in the freezer just in case.
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