Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

  Growing up, my mom would make what we called ‘chocolate eclair cake’. It was the go-to dessert when we were asked to bring a dessert to large gatherings. It was my favorite sweet there most the time. It was rather simple to make, just graham crackers, boxed vanilla pudding, cool whip, and canned chocolate frosting- all layered and kept in the refrigerator. Not too long ago I tried recreating it from scratch, then I tried a slice in the freezer and it was even better that way. So, In a way, that dessert was the inspiration for this recipe. I guess it would be considered an icebox cake, but I’m still not sure. I used the label anyway as it comes pretty close in my opinion.

Traditionally, icebox cake is just chocolate wafers and whipped cream layered and refrigerated. This version has a bit more effort put into it, but the outcome is well worth it. I had a difficult time deciding what cookie/cracker/wafer I should use. I don’t like to buy pre-made things for most of my recipes, so graham crackers or any pre-packaged cookie was off the list. I decided on my ginger snap cookies and combined with the banana pudding, it’s the most delicious tasting combo.


Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

  for the pudding/filling:

2 cups whole milk

2 medium-sized bananas, mashed

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

1/3 cup raw cane sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons cake flour (or all-purpose)

pinch of sea salt

2 cups heavy cream, beaten to stiff peaks

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

  for the cookies

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup raw cane sugar

1/3 cup blackstrap molasses

1 large egg, room temperature

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoons ground allspice

1/3 cup raw sugar, for rolling

  METHOD

  for the cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Prepare one large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
  2. In an electric standing mixer (whisks attached), beat -on medium speed- the butter and sugar until creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and add the molasses and egg; beat on low until fully combined. Scrape down the bowl once more. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to the mixer and beat on medium speed until just combined. Spoon out the dough, rolling each piece between the palms of your hands until they’ve formed into slightly smooth(but still have small cracks in the dough) balls, each being around 1/2-inch in diameter. Lightly coat with the sugar and place them on the baking sheet, spacing each piece an inch apart from each other. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Once the cookies come out of the oven, use a flat spoon to flatten each cookie while they’re still soft. Cool on the baking sheet for three minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely before using.

  for the pudding/filling:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean paste, and mashed banana. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Once the time has passed, pour the milk into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard any pieces caught. In another bowl, combine the cornstarch, cake flour, and salt. Add half of the milk to the flour and whisk until combined, set aside(whisk the mixture again just before using). 
  2. Set aside a clean mixing bowl, whisk, and sieve; as well as a large bowl filled with ice water for later use.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl that fits over the top of said saucepan(don’t let the bowl touch the water!). Bring the water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once simmering, add the sugar and egg yolks and continually whisk until the sugar has dissolved(the mixture will look slightly pale yellow in color). Pour in the flour/milk mixture and whisk until combined, then add the remaining milk. Turn up the heat to medium and continue to whisk the mixture until thick and smooth, making sure to whisk the sides and bottom of the bowl so that none of the pudding burns. When it begins to bubble, cook for one minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a clean bowl. Set the bowl in the ice water and whisk the pudding until cool to touch. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding so it doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate until cold(about 30 minutes or so, or place in the freezer until cool; this way is faster). Once the pudding has chilled, proceed to the next step:
  4. Chill a large bowl and the whisk(s) to an electric hand mixer. Once chilled, add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir the chilled pudding, then add to the whipped cream. Fold the two together until fully combined. Line the sides and bottom of a large loaf pan with parchment paper(I made the mistake of using plastic wrap, it was difficult to get into/out of the pan). To assemble the icebox cake:
  5. Place a layer of cookies at the bottom of the pan(they should be firmly in place), then spoon half of the pudding mixture on top of the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on the pudding, then add the remaining pudding over the top evenly. Lastly, top with another layer of cookies. Cover the pan tightly and freeze for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Once frozen drizzle with melted chocolate (optional).
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