Friday, July 8, 2011

lime vanilla icebox cake

icebox cakes make the world go round in summer. now that portland has made some strides toward catching up with the rest of the country in the heat department (it was 90 degrees the other day!), no one really wants to go to the trouble of baking anything. it's just not worth it to heat your house up all day.

that's where icebox cakes come in. there are many varieties and levels of kitschiness one could go for with these. there is one that calls for layering nabisco wafers with whipped cream (or you can make the wafers yourself and make them into cakes or cupcakes and yum), others that use graham crackers or different kinds of wafer cookies.

this one uses ritz crackers, those buttery little delights that ... actually, i don't like ritz crackers that much. but they are good in cake-like things! who knew? and yes, as the picture above demonstrates, i think it is very important that the crackers you use for this have a marketing tie-in with glee on the packaging. glee and ritz! together again for the very first time!

anyway, the idea for this baby came from here, and i changed just a couple of things. first, i added some vanilla to the batter/milky layers. then i layered the crackers somewhat differently and added a yogurt layer over the top. next time i think i will maybe crunch up some of the remaining crackers and caramelize them and people can put them on top when they eat this, because i think the textural contrast would be nice. but this was very very good as made.

so this is the first layer. before you get to this step, you have to mix everything except the crackers together in a bowl. or whatever you want to mix it in. i used a bowl, but perhaps i lack the spark of imagination that would enable me to say, "i know everyone uses bowls for mixing things, but i am going to use.... an old boot." it's probably just as well though. mixing bowl it is!

so, seriously, that picture at the top contains all of the ingredients in this except for the yogurt. that's how crazy-easy it is. just glob out two cans of sweetened condensed milk, a pint of whipping cream (not whipped. just the cream one could whip, if so inclined), 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or paste, a tablespoon of lime zest, and half a cup or so of lime juice (yeah, this used a lot of limes. but under no circumstances should you purchase one of those vaguely lime-shaped thingies that they cunningly sell right next to real limes. those suckers are nasty. juice real limes yourself! don't be so lazy - the rest of this is super easy. get one of these - they're great! or whatever brand. i don't care. just not those plastic shame-filled monstrosities.)

hmm. so. anyway. i guess i feel more strongly about lime juice than i realized. well.

you mix those things together and they thicken right before your eyes! it is a miracle! no, don't freak out. it is just lime juice plus science. something something acid milk dairy thicken proteins something. ta da!

put a largish (like a cup or so) dollop of that sweet limey ambrosia in your mouth in the bottom of a smallish pan. the one i used measured about 4 ritz crackers by 3 ritz crackers. really, it doesn't matter - the smaller the pan, the deeper the cake will be, the larger, the shallower. go with your instincts on this.

once i made one layer, i spread a little of the filling (like 1/2 a cup or maybe 2/3) over the inside part of the crackers. see the picture above? there were fairly large gaps between which the little round darlings didn't touch, and i wanted the cake to be more cohesive. then i did more layers like that - 12 cracker layer, then 6 cracker layer. finally i got to the end and i didn't have that much filling left so it looked weird:

that's why i decided to do a yogurt layer. i waited to do that until after the cake firmed up overnight in the fridge though. that's another big thing about this. you can apparently make it a couple of hours before you serve it, but i would definitely strongly suggest that you make it the day before. i mine like 24 hours before and it was great. i don't think 2 hours would be nearly enough to ensure the proper level of ingredient cohesion.

so you've layered it and put a little plastic wrap over it and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. then the next morning, mix some greek yogurt (2/3 - 3/4 of a cup or so) with a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (to taste). you did buy some extra condensed milk didn't you? have you had that stuff in cold coffee? if you don't have more condensed milk around, you could probably use honey or a little agave nectar. or you could save a little milk from the cans that go in the filling and use that. or you could skip the whole yogurt thing and layer so that you don't have crackers showing at the top.

then sprinkle the whole thing with some more lime zest. that's just for pretty. then let it chill awhile more so that the yogurt sets up.

then eat it up! this is really one of those things that's more than the sum of its parts. it's tangy and sweet and rich and really just amazingly good. it's great for potlucks and parties! it's like the easiest key lime pie you never made!

you could also use other citrus fruits instead of limes, as long as they are acidic enough. i think this would be wonderful with grapefruit, for instance. also you could layer some fruit in there - lemon juice and blueberries, lime and blackberries or strawberries, tangelo and tayberries ... the possibilities are endless.

2 cans sweetened condensed milk (plus a few tablespoons, if using yogurt for top)
1 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup lime (or whatever) juice
2 sleeves (or so) ritz crackers (or analogue - i'm sure there are generic ritz things that would be fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 tablespoons lime zest
2/3 - 3/4 cup greek yogurt (optional)

mix the first 5 ingredients, plus 1 tablespoon zest. layer with the crackers. chill overnight. top with yogurt mixed with a little condensed milk, chill another few hours. sprinkle with more zest and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. This made me Giggle Out Loud. And also sounds delectable!