This is a very badly timed dessert. It’s finally bearable to stand next to a hot oven, and I went and created a no-bake treat. Oops. In my defense, fresh cherries made their debut a little late this year, so I sandwiched them between biscuits and a TON of mascarpone and made you a cake. Wheee!
I’ve been meaning to try an ‘icebox’ cake a while now. Because if biscuits and any kind of whipped dairy can form a cake sitting in the fridge or freezer, it’s too easy not to try. I saw many, many versions. Some with just whipped cream, some with cream cheese, some with both, some with mascarpone and because I had a box of it that needed finishing, boom.
All it really takes is to make a super quick cherry compote, let it cool a bit and then get assembling. I used a little cream as well for the filling, and if you can’t find heavy cream (which I didn’t for some reason this week), single cream is just fine too. The biscuits are generally graham crackers but I used digestive biscuits, blitzed and layered.
The mascarpone tastes like vanilla ice cream, I kid you not. It goes perfectly with the slightly sour cherry compote and the biscuits had enough crunch and texture. Flaked almonds on top look pretty and add more crunch if you’re into that. It’s amaaaazing.
I have a couple of confessions here though. This is not a dessert that’s ready to be eaten immediately, or even two hours later. In Indian temperatures, it’s best frozen overnight to really let it set, because if you’re in a rush like I was, it’s going to end up falling apart, and that’s heartbreaking. A few minutes after I finished shooting, I was getting ready to slice the whole thing and store it away aaaand bam. Deconstructed icebox cake. The biscuits need time to absorb the liquid from the cream and cherries. So wait, wait wait.
Second, digestive biscuits are fragile. Even more so when they’re blitzed into crumbs. So even though I would like to avoid adding any more fat to this dessert, a couple of tablespoons of melted butter will help bind the crumbs. I’ll note this in the recipe below. And finally, this needs to be assembled in a loaf tin lined with clingfilm. I made a smaller version, in my mini loaf tin which is glass, so the clingfilm stuck to it like crazy. Impatient old me didn’t let it thaw a bit before yanking it out and turning it upside down and what not, so it cracked more than it should have. Preferably, use a metal loaf tin, and don’t be over enthusiastic!
I’m making this sound really scary, but it’s just a little high-maintenance is all. Give it some love and the tantrums can be avoided. It’s the perfect make-ahead dessert for a hot day because it’s cold, creamy, fruity and nooooo bake!
- For the cherry compote
- ¾ cup halved and pitted cherries (from about 200 gms whole cherries)
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tsps water
- ½ tsp cornflour dissolved in 1 tsp water
- For the biscuit layer
- 100 gms digestive biscuits
- 2 tbsps melted butter
- For the mascarpone layer
- 200 gms mascarpone cheese, at room temp
- ¼ cup cream, chilled
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- Handful of flaked almonds, optional
- In a small saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar and water. Heat on low heat till the mixture begins to boil, then add the dissolved cornflour. The mixture will immediately thicken. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Line a 6x4 inch loaf tin (preferably metal, not glass so the clingfilm sticks less), with clingfilm, keeping it loose on the insides of the tin so it doesn't tear. Leave enough of an overhang so that you can lift the cake out.
- Blitz the biscuits in a blender or food processor until finely ground. Stir in the melted butter till the mixture clumps together. Add more if needed. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla and until smooth and fluffy. Place in the fridge for 10 mins.
- When ready to assemble, spread a very thin layer of the mascarpone mixture on the bottom of the tin, to help the biscuits to stick.
- Tip half the biscuit mixture on top of this thin cream layer, and pack it in tightly with a spoon. Spread half the mascarpone mixture on top and smoothen it.
- Now spoon half the cherry compote and spread it around evenly. Spread the remaining biscuit crumbs on top, pack in firmly, then spread another thin layer of the mascarpone to help soften the crumbs.
- Spread on the remaining compote, then the remaining mascarpone and smoothen the top.
- Garnish with flaked almonds then freeze overnight. If you do end up using a glass tin and are concerned about it being in the freezer too long, freeze for at least 4 hours, then refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to serve, leave the tin out at room temperature for 10 mins. Then slowly run a blunt knife on the outside of the clingfilm, and wiggle the overhang around a bit to release. Be patient, this will take time and the clingfilm might tear a little but you will get it out.
- Once it's out, if it's softened too much, stick it back in the freezer, then slice. Keep frozen in an airtight tin, thawing for 10 mins to let the cherries soften whenever you want to eat it!