We Made Ina Garten’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake, and It Couldn’t Be Any Easier

This quick and easy-to-prep mocha-flavored chocolate icebox cake from Ina Garten is the perfect no-fuss dessert for summer celebrations.

Ina Garten Icebox CakeLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

If there’s one thing the Barefoot Contessa knows how to do, it’s turning homestyle recipes into elegant and elevated culinary masterpieces. Sure, Ina Garten’s favorite foods sound simple, but they always have an extra shot of oomph, like her stunning Chocolate Cake. That usually means a long ingredient list requiring several hard-to-find specialty ingredients (if you don’t have time to travel to Brazil to harvest your own coffee beans, store-bought is fine) and extra labor-intensive steps, but the result is always worth the extra effort.

However, today we’re putting what is perhaps the easiest recipe we’ve ever seen come out of the Barefoot Contessa to the test: Ina Garten’s Icebox Cake. Made with store-bought?! cookies and a mocha chocolate cream filling comprised of just seven everyday ingredients, we knew after scanning this mocha chocolate icebox cake recipe that it must be good if Ina kept the ingredients and method this simple!

Chocolate not your thing? Try this banana split icebox cake instead.

Ina Garten’s Icebox Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Ina Garten Icebox Cake 060122 Toh 01 AdeditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Ina suggests Droste brand)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages of chocolate chip cookies (Ina recommends Tate’s Bake Shop cookies which are thin and crispy rather than soft-baked)
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish

Yield: 8-inch cake, about 10 servings

Editor’s Tip: Despite what you might think, an icebox cake isn’t the same as an ice cream cake. While ice is in the name, icebox cakes are chilled in the refrigerator and not in the freezer (like these freezer desserts).

Directions

Step 1: Make the mocha chocolate cream

Ina Garten Icebox Cake mocha creamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Add the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. With your mixer on its lowest setting, stir till combined, then gradually increase the speed and beat until the mixture is light, fluffy, and forms stiff peaks.

Editor’s Tip: If you’d like to make this boozy dessert without alcohol, you can omit the Kahlua and swap it for an equal amount (1/4 cup) of additional heavy cream.

Step 2: Layer the cookies

Ina Garten Icebox Cake cookie layerLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan, arrange a layer of cookies. Break up a few to fill in as many gaps as you can.

Step 3: Top with cream

Ina Garten Icebox CakeLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Divide the filling into five equal portions and then evenly spread the first dollop over the cookie layer.

Step 4: Repeat layers

Ina Garten Icebox Cake Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Top the cream with a second layer of cookies, followed by a second layer of cream. Repeat the layers, in an alternating fashion, ending with a final layer of cream on top.

We bet you’ll love these layered desserts too!

Step 5: Chill

Ina Garten Icebox Cake Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Cover the cake tightly with plastic and then chill in the refrigerator overnight for best results.

Editor’s Tip: In testing, we let our cake chill for close to 24 hours total, but we think it would have been ready to go in as little as 12 hours if needed.

Step 6: Decorate and serve

Ina Garten Icebox Cake Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Run a knife around the rim of the cake to loosen the edges and then carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. Finish the icebox cake with a generous sprinkling of chocolate shavings, slice, and serve. Enjoy!

Here’s What We Thought

Why mess with perfection?! We still can’t believe how quick and easy this simple icebox cake came together. From start to finish we were able to put together the cake in less than 30 minutes. Talk about a quick dessert! The hardest part about this recipe was truly waiting for it to chill.

Upon serving, we noticed that it is imperative to run a knife around the edge of the pan to cleanly remove the sides of the springform pan from the icebox cake. Do not skip that step!

As for taste—yum! We can say with certainty that we will be adding Ina Garten’s icebox cake into our regular rotation of quick and easy summer dessert recipes. While the cream and cookie layers remained distinct, their flavors melded together beautifully as the cake chilled. Plus, the cookies softened and became perfectly chewy (no complaints).

What we enjoyed most about this cake is its room for creativity and adaptation. All we could think about while devouring this chocolaty cookie icebox cake was how many other flavor combinations (peanut butter icebox cake, anyone?) we could create from this one recipe. It’s the perfect base for countless other flavor combos.

Tips for Making Ina Garten’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

While Ina Garten’s icebox cake is about as easy as it gets, here are a few tips for making sure yours turns out perfect every time.

First, we would suggest reducing the layers down to four layers each of cookies and cream rather than five. This tip is personal preference, but we would have liked to have fewer, slightly thicker layers in the cake.

Second, while our layers were distinct, they were not as clean and sharp as we would have liked. If you want your cake to look a little neater and less “homemade” we suggest trying to pipe the chocolate cream over the cookie layers rather than spread it with a spatula.

Last, For clean cutting, try spraying your knife and server lightly with cooking spray before digging in. The cream liked to stick a bit to our knife as we cut, but once we greased it with a little cooking spray, the cake cut like a dream.

How to Make Ina Garten’s Icebox Cake Even Better

Get creative! As stated previously this cake is just screaming for you to make it your own.

Change it up simply by topping the cake with come chocolate-covered espresso beans or a drip edge of chocolate ganache for some added decadence (or try another one of these cake decorating techniques).

You could also take this cake in a completely different flavor direction. Opt for snickerdoodle cookies and swap the Kahlua for Rumchata. Then, omit the cocoa and instead add some caramel sauce and toasted pecans for a cinnamon sticky-bun variation of this amazing icebox cake recipe. The possibilities are truly endless.

How to Store an Icebox Cake

This icebox cake will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can also wrap it tightly in plastic and foil and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before serving.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.