By some miracle, we’ve once again made it through the dreary, seemingly endless stretch of January and February. For me, that’s reason enough to indulge in this creamy, whimsical (and supremely easy) icebox cake that I’ve been dreaming up for a while.
If you’re not familiar with icebox cakes, they’re easy to get to know. Not to be confused with ice cream cakes, they’re made with layers of whipped cream and some variety of sweet cracker that are then refrigerated for several hours. The magic happens during the lengthy chilling time, which allows the snappy wafers to soften into the whipped cream to form layers of delicious, scoopable “cake.” If you google “icebox cake” you’ll find that the variations are endless: pudding, cream cheese, or mascarpone are mixed in with the whipped cream; surprises like strawberries or chopped nuts are tucked into the layers, and every garnish under the sun is called upon to grace the top of the cake. I like to think of icebox cake as a foolproof blank canvas for whatever your heart desires.
For this cake, what my heart desired was Gosomi, my favorite sweet-and-salty Korean cracker. Packaged in bright-yellow boxes that are instantly recognizable in the H Mart snack aisle, the thin, crispy squares are earthy, nutty, and lightly coated in sugar. Their flavor and texture makes them both the stuff dreams are made of and a perfect substitute for the graham crackers or chocolate wafers that usually appear in an icebox cake. Along with the layers of Gosomi that make up its base, this cake gets flavor and texture from sesame oil-spiked whipped cream, toasted shredded coconut, and sesame seeds. After you carefully mold all of the layers into a loaf pan, all that’s left to do is stick the whole thing in the fridge and wait. This is admittedly the hardest part, but try not to skimp on the chilling time, as it takes at least 8 hours or overnight to fully soften and meld all the ingredients.
The grand reveal of an icebox cake never gets old for me, and this one is no exception. What may look like a plain loaf-shaped log when you first invert it onto a large plate becomes a creamy, layered beauty once it’s dressed up with more Gosomi pieces, coconut, and sesame seeds and cut into thick slices to serve (or scooped into bowls for ease). However you slice it, you’ll find that the toasted coconut inside the cake and the freshly crumbled crackers that garnish it provide just the right amount of textural contrast to the cream and softened crackers. It’s all tied together by the subtly savory flavor of sesame.
Though I’ll always be in the mood to dig into a sleeve of Gosomi crackers, this recipe proves that things are only bound to get better in (icebox) cake form — after all, there’s no reason why graham crackers and Oreos should get all the love.