Icebox Towers

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:


    Individual Cookie Towers

Appears in

Baked: New Frontiers in Baking


By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Published 2008

  • About

The Icebox Tower is our Version of the Classic “Icebox Cake” (usually just crisp chocolate cookies layered with whipped cream), albeit a very upscale version. It is a stately dessert with a lot of visual flair, and it would not be out of place at a five-course dinner. This recipe was featured in Food & Wine, and we also made a mini-version for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, for more than two thousand people. We urge you not to be frightened of lengthy, multistep recipes, but enlisting a friend is not a bad idea on a recipe as complicated as this one. For those inclined to skip a few steps, the chocolate cookies featured here taste delicious on their own.


For the Chocolate Cookies

  • ¾ cup ( sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cups all-purpose flour

For the Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, or dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Make the Chocolate Cookies

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar at low speed until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then beat in the cocoa powder and salt. Add the flour and beat until just combined. Form the cookie dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

On a lightly floured board, roll out each disk of chilled cookie dough to a 10½-inch round, ¼ inch thick. Using a -inch round biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can; transfer the rounds to a large rimmed baking sheet. Gather the dough scraps, chill briefly, reroll, and cut more rounds. You should have 32 to 34 rounds. You only need 30 rounds for the towers, but a few extras are good to have on hand.

Bake in the center of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are just set. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Chocolate Pastry Cream

Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.

In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a simmer and keep warm.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and salt until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture into the remaining half-and-half in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until chilled.

Make the Whipped Cream Filling

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

Transfer ¾ cup of the whipped cream to a small bowl. Beat in 3 tablespoons of the chocolate pastry cream to make a light-chocolate cream.

Assemble the Icebox Towers

Arrange 30 cookies on a work surface. Fill 3 pastry bags fitted with large plain tips with the chocolate pastry cream, the light-chocolate cream, and the whipped cream.

Pipe the chocolate pastry cream onto 12 cookies. Pipe the light-chocolate cream onto 6 cookies. Pipe the whipped cream onto the remaining 12 cookies. Stack the towers: Start with a chocolate pastry cream–topped cookie, then a light-chocolate cream–topped cookie, followed by a whipped cream–topped cookie, another chocolate pastry cream-topped cookie, and finally a whipped cream–topped cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Pipe a small dollop of any remaining chocolate pastry cream onto the top of each whipped cream–topped tower. Transfer the cookie towers to a serving platter and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, before serving. The towers can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.