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.
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.
On a lightly floured board, roll out each disk of chilled cookie dough to a
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.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
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.
© 2008 All rights reserved. Published by Abrams Books.