Rich and refreshing Raspberry Icebox Cake! Layered with graham crackers, homemade fresh raspberry cheesecake flavored mousse and billowy whipped cream. So many layers of tempting deliciousness!
What’s an Icebox Cake?
It is a type of no-bake “cake” that is generally layered with crackers, wafers or cookies which alternates with a cream filling. They can also include fruits, nuts and other mix-ins and they come in various flavors such as chocolate or strawberry.
After assembly, the icebox cake is set in the fridge to rest while the cracker layer absorbs some of the moisture from the cream filling and softens and becomes cake-like.
Since the cake is served cold it’s a great dessert for hot summer days.
This icebox cake, which is made with fresh raspberries, is my favorite version. It’s adapted from my fluffy Raspberry Cheesecake Mousse, but instead of individual cups it’s layered into a pretty cake-like form.
In this recipe, you can appreciate that we ditch any cool whip or pudding mix (often found in icebox cakes) and make the filling and topping from scratch. Trust me it’s a thousand times better!
This dessert is decadent, fruity, fluffy, creamy, fresh, flavorful, lightly tangy, perfectly sweet, and just beyond tasty!
It’s the dessert that’s worth every bit of effort and it will earn high praise at the dinner table.
Icebox Cake Recipe Ingredients
You only need 7 ingredients (plus water)!
- Fresh raspberries
- Gelatin powder
- Heavy cream
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Graham crackers
- Natural red food coloring (or sifted beet powder), completely optional
How to Make Raspberry Icebox Cake
Here’s a summary of the steps to prepare it:
- Start by pureeing the raspberries then strain off the seeds.
- Whisk gelatin and water, rest. Heat mixture, whisk then rest again.
- Meanwhile make whipped cream for the raspberry mousse layer.
- Then separately mix cream cheese with the powdered sugar. Blend in the vanilla and food coloring. Mix in raspberry puree.
- Fold whipped cream into the raspberry cream cheese mixture.
How to Layer Ice Box Cake
- Spread layer of graham crackers into 13 by 9 baking dish.
- Top with half the raspberry mixture then more graham crackers.
- Add remaining raspberry mixture then a final layer of graham crackers.
- Make whipped cream topping and spread over the cake.
- Let it chill in the fridge to set.
- Cut into slices and serve cold. Garnish slices if desired.
- Use fresh raspberries (not frozen) for best results. They won’t be quite as wet as the frozen and thawed would be.
- Whip the heavy cream each time to very stiff peaks. This will help the cake hold up better. It should start to take on a lumpy appearance.
- Smooth each layer with an offset spatula for an even appearance. Also work to cover entire surface with graham crackers (cut to fit before placing them as needed).
- Allow at least 6 hours for cake to rest in fridge before serving to the mousse layers set and so the graham crackers have time to soften.
- Keep the cake cold or it will melt. It shouldn’t sit at room temperature for very long and it won’t hold up well to warm outdoor temperatures.
- Cake should hold up in the fridge for about 2 days (or possibly 3). However I prefer it eaten sooner than later.
- It should be tasty frozen as well if you have leftovers but I don’t recommend thawing (it wouldn’t hold up very well). Maybe just 15 minutes at room temp to soften it slightly.
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Raspberry Icebox Cake
Cracker "Cake" Layers
- 1 (14.4 oz) box graham crackers (about 24 full size sheets)
- For the mousse layer: Pulse the raspberries in a food processor until they are completely pureed. Force the puree through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds (there should be 1 1/3 cups puree). Set aside.
- Pour 3 Tbsp water into a small microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over then whisk right away and rest 5 minutes.
- Heat gelatin mixture in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Remove and whisk for 30 seconds to dissolve then let cool 5 minutes (don't let it cool much longer than that or it will start to set).
- Between the stages of the gelatin resting prepare the cream and cream cheese mixtures. To so do in a medium mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer whip 1 3/4 cups heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- In a separate large mixing bowl (using the same beater blades, no need to clean) blend together cream cheese and 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar until blended. Add in 1 tsp vanilla extract and a little red food coloring if using then whip on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Mix raspberry puree into cream cheese mixture, then with mixer running pour in gelatin mixture. Mix until well combined.
- Add whipped cream mixture to cream cheese mixture, then fold until mixtures are combined.
- For the crackers: Spread enough graham crackers on the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish to cover the bottom surface (break and cut crackers to fit as needed).
- Spread 1/2 of the raspberry mousse mixture evenly over that first graham cracker layer and smooth with an offset spatula. Top with a second layer of graham crackers.
- Top with remaining 1/2 of the raspberry mousse mixture and spread even. Add a final layer of graham crackers.
- For the topping: In the same mixing bowl used to whip the cream before add the remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla. With electric hand mixer set on high speed speed (and now using rinsed and dried beater blades) whip until stiff peaks form.
- Spread whipped cream over the top of the third layer of graham crackers for the final layer.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days.
- Cut into slices and serve garnished with raspberries (and optional mint leaves if you'd like to use those as well).