Lemon curd lovers will rejoice over this easy recipe, because it puts the delicious spread to great use in a homey, old-fashioned, easy icebox “cake.”
I made it for family Thanksgiving and everyone loved it, inhaled it, and left me with only a tiny bit to satisfy my own lemon cravings. This is a good thing.
What’s an icebox?
But first, what’s an icebox? It’s a chilled box or cupboard for keeping something cold, especially food. So, in the olden days of the 19th and early 20th centuries, before electric refrigerators, people had a cupboard or chest into which they would put a large block of ice, to keep their food cold. FYI, ice was sold by the pound and delivered by an iceman. You would place a number card into one of your front windows at home to indicate how many pounds you wanted on delivery day (usually 25, 50, 75, or 100 pounds). But the ice box had some failings…
- You couldn’t open the icebox door very often or the ice would melt too fast.
- Ice boxes were hard to clean, because ice cut from lakes and ponds in the early days of the ice industry often had natural sediment in it, which would be released into the box as it melted.
- If the smell of any food permeated the wood inside and got into the insulation, the whole thing became worthless.
- If you kept the wrong products together in an ice box (butter and fish, for example) one would end up smelling like the other.
Thus, icebox! (And in case you really want to win Jeopardy, the first successful electric household refrigerator debuted in 1915, with a huge growth spurt in the industry in 1920, when producers uniformly began using Freon as a refrigerant and improved the mechanics of it so it was reliable and quiet enough for inside a house.)
What’s an icebox cake?
Back to our regularly scheduled programming…And how do you make a “cake” in the refrigerator? By layering cookies and whipped cream, and maybe some other flavoring if you want. Icebox cakes are not baked, but meld together as they cookies soften into the whipped cream. It’s very comforting and rustic. The most famous version is Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers layered with sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla. You can see a picture of it on the cookie package.
Again, I am digressing…but back to the lemon, perhaps my most favorite flavor. Nothing’s fresher, more lively, more zingy than a lemon dessert, and this Lemon Icebox Cake doesn’t disappoint!
It’s from a new cookbook by onetime actress, now Food TV host Valerie Bertinelli. Her new cookbook, “Valerie’s Home Cooking, ” made my Cookbook Gift Guide  this year. It’s fun, approachable, and Valerie has the kind of personality that draws you close, onscreen and in print.
Here’s what Valerie says about this recipe:
“I’ll give you the top three reasons I repeatedly turn to this cake. I love lemon curd. I love vanilla wafers. And I love how easy this is to make. In my house, this is a summertime cake when it’s hot outside and I don’t want to turn on the oven. After all the ingredients have been combined, the cake is refrigerated instead of baked, and I like that as much as I do the lemony tang of the curd and the cream cheese. If you’re inclined, make your own lemon curd, but a store-bought jar is a perfect first option, as well as the kind of time-saver that makes this icebox cake super simple and satisfying. You can even whip this up a day or two ahead of time. Make it for a picnic, a potluck, or a chilled, refreshing treat for yourself.”
I made my own Microwave Meyer Lemon Curd for this because I had lemons on the tree but actually couldn’t find lemon curd in my store. But feel free to use jarred curd; it will be fine.
This really is a fun cookbook!
Want to see a few more of her recipes?
There’s BLT Pasta…
Arugula Apple Fennel Salad…
Hamburger Helpa. That’s right…Helpa!
If you like this recipe and want to save it, pin the image below to your Pinterest board.
And pick up a copy of the book for yourself or a cooking / foodie friend!
Disclosure: The publisher sent a copy of the book for review.