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Chocolate Refrigerator Roll Cake

Chocolate Refrigerator Roll Cake

Article and photo by Lisa Crockett

I love cake. All kinds of cake. But the dog days of summer don’t
exactly make me long to turn on the oven. This time of year usually has
me pulling out the ice cream maker to whip up a batch of something cold
and homemade. Or perhaps just slicing some chilled watermelon to chase
away the heat of the day.

But sometimes only cake will do. Luckily, about 100 years ago,
someone got the ingenious idea to make something called an “icebox
cake.” A cousin to sophisticated European desserts like tiramisu, these
desserts are decidedly American and rely on pre-made, processed
ingredients. It’s hard to argue with the delicious results that they
produce, though. Most icebox cakes are a pairing of a cracker or
cookie and some sort of moist, custardy filling. Combine those two
things, along with a little time in the fridge, and you’ve got a
delicious treat that doesn’t require the use of an oven.

Famous Wafers – crispy chocolate cookies made by Nabisco – have a
flavor reminiscent of an Oreo, and they make one terrific and easy
icebox dessert. In fact, when I served this cake, the “Famous
Chocolate Refrigerator Roll” to my kids, they immediately dubbed it the
“Oreo Cake.” Sandwiched between layers of whipped cream, the cookies
soak up the moisture and become light, fluffy and cakey. The cake is
made by spreading whipped cream on the wafers and then forming them into
a log by standing them on edge. The log is then frosted with the
remaining whipped cream and put in the fridge to chill. The whole
process is a little messy, but takes almost no time (and I give you
permission to lick your fingers clean once you’re done!) If you cut the
log at an angle, you get an impressive layered effect, suitable for
serving at a fancy affair.

An added benefit to this dessert is that it allows for a myriad of
interpretations. Add a bit of mint flavoring to the whipped cream
instead of the called-for vanilla, and you’ve got a chocolate mint cake.
Whip in some strawberry preserves to add a pretty-pink tinge, then
garnish it with strawberries and blueberries for something both
delicious and patriotic. Garnish the cake with mini chocolate chips,
chocolate shavings, fresh fruit, or chocolate syrup to add flavor and
visual appeal.

I usually like this cake best in its original form, though I do
sweeten the cream lightly. The original recipe, likely formulated just
after the wafers appeared on store shelves in the 1920s, doesn’t call
for sugar in the whipped cream, but I add about three tablespoons of
powdered sugar to the whipped cream mixture anyway. This recipe is so
easy, I can make it from memory, and have done so on more than one
out-of-town trip. As long as you’re in a kitchen equipped with an
electric hand mixer and a fridge, you’re ready to impress your guests.

It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Even on a hot day.

Famous Chocolate Refrigerator Roll

  • 2 Cups Whipping Cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 package (9 ounces) Famous Chocolate Wafers
    (available in the cookie aisle at most
    grocery stores)

Beat cream with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, gently
stir in vanilla. Spread a teaspoon and a half of whipped cream on each
wafer; stack, then stand on edge on a platter. Frost with remaining
whipped cream. Refrigerate at least four hours (in my experience, six
to eight hours is better). Cut into diagonal slices and serve.

Some variations to try:

  • Add three or four tablespoons of powdered sugar to the whipped cream during the whipping process for a little added sweetness.

  • Replace half the vanilla with mint extract.

  • Whip a cup of strawberry jam or preserves into the whipped cream before spreading on cookies.

  • Add a tablespoon and a half of Kahlúa and a tablespoon of instant espresso powder to the whipped cream mixture.


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