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Food and Drink

For Girl Scout cookie season, a lemon cookie icebox cake that kids can make

Lemon Girl Scout cookie icebox cake (Photo by Julia O'Malley)

It’s Girl Scout cookie season, and I was given a challenge by the local scouts to make a recipe that uses cookies. I decided I wanted it to be one that a kid could make, so I settled on an icebox cake, which does not require turning on an oven or stove.

Icebox cakes show up in Alaska’s recipe books in the 1940s when home cooks started to get access to refrigeration. It was also a time when women were beginning to use new cooking technologies to save time that they could devote to their own pursuits. These cookies come with sassy slogans on them, like “I am strong” and “I am an innovator.” They seemed an appropriate fit for a cake born from women’s use of technology.

Generally the cakes use pudding, cream or condensed milk to soften a biscuit or cookie. Cakes like this are sometimes made in a bowl or lasagna pan or the cookies can be stacked into a cake shape. There are all sorts of versions, from Italy’s tiramisu to Filipino mango float to British tea cake to that nostalgic banana pudding on the back of the Nilla wafer box.

This cake can absolutely be made a lasagna pan, but I like how it looks as a cake. This cake goes the route of tiramisu, with a rich, cheesecake-like filling. It definitely takes the full 8 hours to soften. Lemon curd can sometimes be hard to find or spendy, so feel free to skip it if you’re having trouble finding it. (You can also use a little lemon instant pudding instead, if you’d like.) If grown-ups are making this cake, I suggest adding ¼ cup of limoncello to the cream ahead of whipping it.

Lemon Girl Scout cookie icebox cake

Serves 10

Ingredients:

32 ounces (4 cups) whipping cream

16 ounces (two boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners sugar

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

The zest of one lemon, plus addition rind and zest for garnish

1 12 ounce jar lemon curd (optional)

29 Lemon-Ups Girl Scout cookies (You’ll need three boxes)

Method: Prepare the filling. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip cream on medium speed until it thickens and forms soft peaks. Scrape into a bowl. Fit the mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla on medium high until fluffy and well combined. With the mixer on medium-low, slowly add the whipped cream and mix until all of it is well incorporated with the cream cheese mixture.

Prepare the cake plate. Using the filling on the back of a spoon, draw a roughly 7-inch diameter circle on the center of the plate to help the first layer of cookies adhere. Lay a layer of seven cookies on top of it, with one in the middle and six surrounding it. Now add a generous layer of filling, about a cup and a half, and distribute evenly on top of the cookies, spreading it to the edges. If using lemon curd, microwave it for 20 to 30 seconds and stir it in the jar so that it’s spoonable. Drizzle curd on the layer. Add another layer of cookies, either lined up with or offset from your first layer, and repeat steps with filling and curd for two more layers. (There will be four layers of cookies total.) For your last cookie layer, use a generous amount of filling but no curd. Garnish with zest, a twist of rind and an additional cookie. Cover carefully and loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours to allow cookies to soften.

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