Dreamy, chilled desserts full of cream, marshmallow, or mousse were very popular with housewives of the forties and fifties when the potential of the home refrigerator was still being explored. From bombes and baked Alaskas, to mousses, meringues, marlows and mallobets–cookbooks of that era celebrated them all. Steering around the mallow, and more-dubious creations like the Fig Banana Brick (!) we’ve revisited two icebox cakes: a Luscious Chocolate Icebox Cake from the ’40s, and, this whipped cream and fresh strawberry version. Both layer creamy fillings over ladyfinger cookies, which soften as the desserts set.
Makes 8 servings
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 Tbsp plain gelatin granules (Knox)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 pint whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 dozen lady fingers
- Wash, drain and slice berries. Set aside
- Soak gelatin in very cold water to bloom.
- Whip cream, beating in 1/4 cup sugar gradually, until soft peaks form.
- Heat bloomed gelatin in microwave (at 50% power) in 30 second increments until liquified–should be hot, but not too hot to touch.
- Add hot liquid gelatin all at once to whipped cream in mixer bowl and beat at medium speed with cream to smooth consistency.
- Line a loaf pan with waxed paper, lengthwise and widthwise, leaving excess waxed paper hanging over the edges of the pan. Line bottom of pan with lady fingers, (sugar side down, if using sugared lady fingers.)
- Spread a layer of whipped cream over the lady fingers. Over this, press sliced strawberries in rows to cover.
- Spread whipped cream over strawberries, then another layer of lady fingers. Add another layer of cream, and more lady fingers to cover. If you are out of space in the pan at this point, fold waxed paper ends from the sheets you layered into pan at the start. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight.
- To unmold, remove plastic wrap. Grasp ends of waxed paper and lift dessert out of pan. Invert onto cake plate and remove waxed paper.