The classic homemade summer treat, this easy, no-bake biscuit and cream icebox cake is creamy, nostalgic perfection. I've worked out substitutes for Israeli ingredients so you can enjoy this cake wherever you might be.
Icebox cakes are lazy brilliance. You take a bunch of already-good stuff—cookies, cream, maybe chocolate or fruit, depending on your predilection, and you let them hang out in the fridge until they're beautifully melded into way more than the sum of their parts. There is no turning on of ovens, no one to impress with piping bag feats, just a summery treat that everyone loves. If trifle is England's answer to the icebox cake, and banana pudding is the South's, this is Israel's: Layers of coffee-soaked petit beurre biscuits (a.k.a. the graham cracker of Israel) sandwiched with creamy whipped cheese, and then chocolate sauce poured on top.
Like many an Israeli treat, this icebox cake makes use of some crackerjack Israeli ingredients: white cheese, pudding mix, instant coffee ("Nes") and the aforementioned petit buerres. But not to worry, there are excellent American substitution possibilities. You can use any tea biscuit here, and neither graham crackers nor vanilla wafers would be totally out of place. As for the white cheese (gevina levana), you can simply substitute Greek yogurt in equal amounts. It works great here.
Assembling the biscuit cake
To assemble the cake, you primarily need time: first, 2 hours in the freezer before the chocolate sauce goes on top, and then another 2 hours in the fridge to solidify before serving. Thereafter, you'll have a surprisingly neat cake that slices easily and holds its own photogenically revealing those layers of biscuit and cream. Otherwise, you simply whip the cream, milk, pudding mix, and sugar until you get medium peaks, then fold in the cheese/yogurt. Dip your biscuits into coffee (a regular brewed cup of coffee works too) and layer them evenly onto the bottom of a big baking pan (I used a 9"x13" / 23x33 cm, but you could go up to a 27x33 cm; it's not an exact science, this cake).
Half the creamy filling goes over the first layer of biscuits, the rest after the second layer of biscuits is laid over the first. After that, it's into the freezer, from which your cake will emerge mostly solid and tacky, like ice cream. It is now ready to accept the final, but crucial, chocolate topping. Two more hours and you're ready to slice.
Looking for more nostalgic Israeli treats?
- Cookielida, Israel's Iconic Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich - Yes, replicate this magical beach treat at home!
- Homemade Milky, Israel's Pudding Cup - An everyday treat that's somehow special every time, especially if you make it yourself.
- Israeli Chocolate Birthday Cake - This is the archetypal birthday cake of Israel, and no, the nonpareil sprinkles are not optional.
Israeli Biscuits and Cream Icebox Cake (dairy)
- Electric mixer
- 2 cups cream - 500 ml
- 2 cups milk - 480 ml
- 2 packages vanilla instant pudding - 160 g
- ½ cup granulated sugar - 100 g
- 2 cups Tbsp Israeli white cheese - 5% or Greek yogurt - 500 g
- 1 sleeve petit buerre or other teas biscuits - 200 g - about 30 biscuits total
- 1 Tbsp instant coffee powder whisked into 1 cup water
- ½ cup cream
- 1 bar chocolate - 120 g
Make the cream filling:
- In a large bowl, whip together the cream, milk, pudding mix, and sugar using an electric mixer, until the mixture holds medium peaks. Fold in the cheese/yogurt by hand using a silicone spatula.
Assemble the cake:
- Dissolve the coffee in hot water. Get out a large rectangular (9"x13" / 23x33 cm) baking pan.
- Working one biscuit at a time, dip a biscuit in the coffee mixture for just a moment and then place in rows into the bottom of the pan.
- When the entire bottom of the pan is lined, pour about half the cream filling over the biscuits. Smooth, then continue dipping and placing the biscuits over the cream in rows. Smooth the remaining half of the cream filling over the second row of biscuits.
Freeze for 2 hours:
- Cover the cake and place in freezer for 2 hours.
Make the chocolate topping:
- Chop the chocolate. Warm the cream until it is just beginning to steam. Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave to sit for a minute or two. Stir to smoothly dissolve the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Spread the chocolate over the cake:
- When the cake is ready - it should be tacky and solid to the touch, like ice cream - pour the somewhat chilled chocolate mixture in a thin even layer over the frozen cream.
Chill for 2 hours:
- Cover and refrigerate (in the fridge, not the freezer) for 2 hours more, before serving.