Test Kitchen: No-bake summer berry icebox cake

I know the Fourth of July is all about barbecues and side dishes, but I think you need a red, white and blue food item to make your table look complete.

I know the Fourth of July is all about barbecues and side dishes, but I think you need a red, white and blue food item to make your table look complete.

I’ve eaten my fair share of fruit pizza at Fourth of July parties, and while it’s delicious, I was ready to try something different this summer. This no-bake summer berry icebox cake still has those same festive colors, thanks to the fresh fruit, and it doesn’t require turning on the oven, which I consider a win.

I didn’t think I’d ever made or eaten one of these icebox cakes before, but it turns out it’s really similar to those eclair desserts that are made with graham cracker, pudding and chocolate frosting, which was one of my favorite treats as a kid. It’s ridiculously easy and ridiculously delicious.

That said, the recipe does leave you to figure a few things out on your own in terms of quantities once you start assembling. I just went with what felt right, which was not the best choice. Next time, I would go less pudding, more fruit on the layers. I did the opposite, and I ended up having to stretch the pudding mixture at the end.

Speaking of the pudding mixture, if you’re a person who enjoys lemon desserts, I bet you could substitute lemon instant pudding for one or both of the boxes needed for this mix and still get the desired effect.

Also, you’re supposed to use 19 ounces of graham crackers, which is more than comes in a regular-sized box. But I ended up using less than one box by a few crackers. Here’s how I did it: I turned my pan so it was taller than it was wide, and then I laid down graham crackers horizontally. I got five crackers in that way and then moved over to the right side of the pan and put in two crackers vertically, plus an extra segment of a cracker, and that filled up the pan.

Things got a little wobbly and tough to manage as I moved up on the layers, though. I think putting a tiny dollop of pudding mixture on top of the fruit to hold each set of crackers would have made spreading the next layer easier.

The recipe calls for 12 ounces of store-bought frozen whipped topping or homemade whipped cream. I made my own because that’s how my mother raised me. And also because the whipped topping sold in the frozen-food aisle is basically just corn syrup and oil, and that grosses me out. I mixed one cup of heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla, and that turned into the cup-and-a-half needed for the recipe.

I stuck my cake in the fridge overnight and pulled it out the next morning to make the white chocolate drizzle topping. The cake traveled to the About headquarters with me for photographs and managed the car ride just fine, so it should make it to your Fourth of July party intact, too.

RECIPE
INGREDIENTS:
19 ounces graham crackers
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 3.4-ounce packages vanilla instant pudding
2 1/2 cups cold milk
12 ounces whipped topping or homemade whipped cream
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 ounces white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
1. Beat cream cheese and dry pudding mixes in large bowl with mixer until blended.
2. Gradually beat in milk.
3. Gently stir in Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream, reserving 1/2 cup.
4. Spread a thin layer of Cool Whip in a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan just to coat the bottom.
5. Layer five graham crackers across the center of the pan, then two more, breaking them as needed to fit around the top and bottom edges.
6. Spread a layer of pudding mixture over the grahams and top with a layer of blueberries and sliced strawberries.
7. Place graham crackers on top of berries, then pudding mixture, then layer of berries again.
8. Repeat the graham-pudding-berries layer one more time (three times total), and you should reach the top of the pan.
9. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight until the graham crackers have softened completely.
10. When ready to serve, melt white chocolate chips in a bowl as directed on the package and drizzle over the dessert.

SOURCE: cakescottage.com

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass