Every day, Yahoo Food features delectable cakes. They taste good, they look good, and they’re made by good people — talented bakers from around the world. Today, Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan share a recipe from their new book Icebox Cakes, a collection of no-bake recipes for the coolest cakes in town.
Photography by Tara Donne
Yields 9 to 12 servings
We think it would be unfair to write a book about icebox cakes and not give a grateful nod to banana cream pie. Our icebox version substitutes graham crackers for the pie crust, and separates the bananas from the pudding, giving each a hearty glug of rum. Finally, we caramelize the bananas, which may just bring banana pie devotees to their knees.
One 8-by-8-by-2-inch square baking pan
Caramelized Rum Bananas
Makes about 2 cups
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 nicely ripened bananas, cut into 1∕2-inch rounds
6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1∕2 teaspoon salt
1∕2 cup dark rum
Makes about 5 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
1∕4 cup cornstarch
3∕4 teaspoon salt
2 1∕2 cups whole milk
3∕4 cup heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1∕4 cup dark rum, or to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Vanilla-Rum Whipped Cream
Makes about 3 cups
1 1∕2 cups heavy cream
1∕4 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1∕2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Makes about thirty-six 2 1∕2-by-5-inch Crackers
2 1∕4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1∕2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1∕2 teaspoon baking soda
Rounded 1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons whole milk
1 1∕2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Rounded 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1∕4 cup vegetable oil
1∕3 cup honey
Make the Caramelized Bananas
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Add the bananas and cook, flipping them over to ensure they begin to brown on both sides.
Once the bananas have browned and softened up a bit, add the brown sugar and salt and continue cooking the bananas for 1 or 2 minutes more so their color darkens and the sugar melts.
Add the rum and cook until the sauce thickens again, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the bananas to cool to room temperature. They are best used the same day.
Make the Pudding
In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the milk and cream and whisk to combine. Add the egg, whisk again, and place the saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.
Once the mixture begins to thicken and bubbles begin popping on the surface, turn the heat to medium and whisk vigorously for 45 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.
If the pudding has any lumps, strain it through a medium-mesh wire sieve into a heatproof bowl. Add the rum, butter, and vanilla and whisk until they are incorporated.
The pudding should be used almost immediately; it should still be warm and relatively pourable when you layer it with the crackers.
Make the Whipped Cream
Refrigerate the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment (or a medium metal bowl and beaters from a hand mixer) until quite cold, about 15 minutes.
Once chilled, remove the bowl and whisk from the refrigerator, add the cream, and whip it on medium speed until just thickened.
Add the rum, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla and, on medium-high speed, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks that stand upright when the whisk is raised. Use it immediately.
Make the Graham Crackers
In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the brown sugar, butter, and vegetable oil on medium-low speed until slightly fluffy, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the honey and mix until just incorporated and scrape the bowl again. The mixture may look a bit curdled at this point; that’s okay.
With the mixer running on medium-low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Stop the machine and scrape the sides of the bowl. Return to medium-low speed and add the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Beat until the dough is still crumbly, and not yet a cohesive mass. Scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
Form the dough into two 2 1∕2-by-5-inch blocks (or line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan, preferably with straight sides, with plastic wrap and press the dough into the pan, forming one large block), wrap the blocks (or pan) in plastic wrap, and freeze them for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (If you choose to press your dough into a loaf pan to shape it, your crackers will be slightly smaller than the traditional cracker size.)
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once frozen, unwrap one block of dough and use a sharp paring or chef’s knife to cut it into thin rectangular slices about 1∕8 inch thick. Do not be concerned if your rectangles are imperfect. (The crackers will be buried inside the cake and no one will know.) Using the tines of a fork, prick the rectangles lengthwise in two rows.
Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on one of the prepared baking sheets and place them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Repeat with the second block of dough and prepared baking sheet. If you need more room to fit all of your dough slices, simply arrange them on additional sheets of parchment paper, layer the dough-covered papers one on top of the other on the second baking sheet in the freezer, and switch them out as you bake off each batch. (You can also wrap the baking sheets in plastic wrap and freeze the slices for up to 1 week.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F
Place one baking sheet of frozen dough slices in the oven and bake until they are golden brown and relatively firm and dry, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time. Using a stiff metal or plastic spatula, immediately press down lightly on each cracker to flatten it. Let the crackers cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. The crackers should be very crispy when cooled. If they are not, place them back in the 350˚F oven for 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat to bake the additional sheets of frozen dough slices.
Store the crackers in an airtight container as soon as they have cooled. They will remain crispy at room temperature, tightly sealed, for about 24 hours. Freezing the baked crackers in a resealable plastic bag also works well, for up to 1 month. There is no need to defrost the crackers before assembling your cake.
Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread a generous layer of the pudding on the bottom of the baking pan.
Cover as much of the pudding as possible with a layer of the graham crackers, filling any gaps with broken crackers. The pieces should touch. The goal is a solid layer of graham crackers.
Layer some of the caramelized bananas over the crackers.
Continue layering in this order (pudding, crackers, bananas) until you run out or reach the top of the pan. Spread the top of the cake with the whipped cream and gently cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Peel the plastic wrap from the cake and top the cake with chopped bananas. Serve portions directly from the pan.
Reprinted with permission from Ice Box Cakes by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan (Chronicle Books).
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