There are few two-ingredient desserts as transcendent as an icebox cake. The brittle cookies absorb the moisture of the cream, softening into cake, while the whipped cream stiffens up into a plush snowdrift of frosting just barely firm enough to slice. Classic recipes call for whipped cream studded with chocolate wafers, but variations abound. Some add fruit and other flavorings to the cream; others switch up the cookies.
This deluxe strawberry iteration,
from Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream in Manhattan, does all of this and more. It starts with a crisp vanilla wafer pie shell that’s brimming with pink strawberry mousse and more wafers under a mosaic of fresh berries. Then, the top is gilded with a shimmering homemade strawberry gelatin that’s springy next to the billowing fluff beneath.
The recipe’s inspiration came from something Nicholas Morgenstern’s grandmother used to make with whipped topping and a box of red gelatin. Then, he and Priyaporn Pichitpongchai, Morgenstern’s pastry chef, gave it a makeover. This updated version has a fresher, more vibrant flavor that’s worth the extra work it takes to make.
Strawberry icebox pie
Recipe from Nicholas Morgenstern and Priyaporn Pichitpongchai Adapted by Melissa Clark
Ingredients for the strawberry gelatin:
• 1 pound strawberries (about 3 cups), thinly sliced
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Ingredients for the pie crust:
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
• 3 1/2 cups vanilla wafers
• 2 tablespoons sugar
Ingredients for the filling:
• About 2 cups strawberries
• 1 cup cold heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
• 13 vanilla wafers, halved
Ingredients for the topping:
• Whipped cream
For the strawberry gelatin: combine the sliced strawberries and sugar in a medium-size heat-proof bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 18-24 hours.
To make the crust: Heat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a 9or 10-inch pie dish. In a food processor, combine wafers, sugar and melted butter. Process until mixture is well blended. Transfer to prepared pie dish and, using the bottom of a measuring cup, press crumb mixture into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides, pressing up about 1/4-inch past the rim of the pie pan. Bake until the crust darkens slightly, 8-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make the filling: Purée 3 ounces strawberries in a blender until smooth. You should have about 1/4-1/3 cup strawberry purée. Set aside. Quarter another 2 ounces of strawberries to yield about 1/3 cup, and set aside.
Beat heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in strawberry purée until just combined; do not over beat. Fold in quartered strawberries. Scrape strawberry cream into the cooled pie crust and smooth the top. Press the halved vanilla wafers vertically into the filling so that it is studded throughout with wafers. Cover pie with plastic wrap, place on rimmed sheet pan and chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Once the pie has chilled, thinly slice the remaining 5 ounces of strawberries. Remove pie from refrigerator and place sliced strawberries over the filling to cover it. Place back into the refrigerator, covered.
Put 1-2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the covered bowl of strawberries on top of the saucepan. Be sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Heat strawberries to release more juice, swirling the bowl for 15 minutes. Strain strawberries until there is about 2/3 cup juice.
Transfer about 2 tablespoons of the hot strawberry juice into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top; let it sit for a few minutes to soften. Add remaining strawberry juice to gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved. Whisk in lemon juice.
With the pie still in the refrigerator, pour the gelatin over the sliced strawberries.
Let pie chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, until the gelatin sets, at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream dolloped on top.
Total time: 1 hour, plus at least 18 hours for macerating and 5 hours for chilling; serves 8.