Four years ago during a high school trip to New York City I stood in Rockefeller Center shivering from the cold. As my sister and I managed to stop shaking long enough to pose for a few pictures in front of the famous Christmas tree, a town car pulled up unexpectedly. When two women exited the vehicle, there was a sense of disappointment that we did not meet the gaze of a famous artist or actor. However, upon closer inspection, a smile grew on my face.
“That’s the Barefoot Contessa!” I squealed to my sister.
“Really? Where?” she asked.
“Who?” inquired the other students in our group.
Having spent my high school afternoons doing calculus homework while watching Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, I was so excited to see one of TV’s entertaining queens in person (even if those around me had no idea who she was).
Ever since I started watching the Food Network, Ina Garten has been one of my favorite personalities. Her simple, yet decadent and satisfying recipes, are great for cooks of all ages. When asked to prepare a dessert for this past Christmas, I knew Ina would have a recipe sure to impress. And indeed she did.
This recipe for Mocha Icebox Cake requires no baking and has a prep time of only 20 minutes. Whipping up a simple mocha cream and alternately layering it with chocolate chip cookies creates a luscious, rich dessert without breaking a sweat. As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”
Although I never had the opportunity in New York City to ask the Contessa about the perfect holiday menu or how her roast chicken always comes out perfect, I still think about that moment each time my mouth waters while watching her kitchen magic on television.
Bethany Imondi, a junior studying Government and English at Georgetown University, is spending her winter break devouring food blogs and food-related television programs. Read more…
Mocha Icebox Cake
Courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?
Note: If you lack an electric beater, you could always try this recipe using store-bought whipped topping. Instead of whipping the heavy cream, simply mix everything from the mascarpone to the vanilla into two containers of room temperature whipped topping; be careful not to overmix.
2 cups cold heavy cream
12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for sprinkling on top (optional)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies (Trader Joe’s cookies work great)
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks.
To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (Break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream.
Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate and cocoa powder, if desired, cut in wedges, and serve cold.