Key Lime and Strawberry Icebox Cake

The boycott against my stove is still going strong. It’s actually resulted in some pretty tasty and fun meals, and has even got me planning dishes to do on the grill out back. And that’s a bigdeal because our grill is down two flights of stairs, around the building, and down another flight of stairs to a mosquito filled backyard. More on that later.

Last week I found some key limes for sale and couldn’t resist buying them. I’ve always wanted to use them for a pie but couldn’t bring myself to actually bake (aka: turn the oven on). This came to me through some intense Instagram photo hopping one afternoon when I saw a photo of a gorgeous icebox cake. I understood the fundamentals – that you layer crackers or cookies and they will absorb the moisture of whatever filling you choose and transform into a cake-like consistency in the icebox (refrigerator) overnight – but hadn’t actually made one yet.

Graham crackers (a popular icebox cake ingredient) and key lime are meant to be.

I really love the simplicity and lack of bells and whistles for this cake. It’s too hot for bells and whistles. And sometimes, you just really want to make something that doesn’t take half a day to create.
It was actually a ton of fun to be a little sloppy and I’ve been trying to let my self-critic side take some time off. When I started layering the crackers with the filling oozing out everywhere there was a lot of cringing. It wasn’t until I realized that A. it could easily be fixed with an offset spatula and B. IT STILL LOOKED DELICIOUS that I stopped all the worrying and just went with the ooze.
I would normally use the stove top to make the strawberry sauce (or coulis)  but I felt it would be fun to make a cake that required no added heat whatsoever. So that’s what I did. And that’s what you should do. For everything, seriously. All breakfast carbs (pancakes, waffles, french toast), fruit salads, ice cream sundaes, yogurts…they all need fresh fruit sauces that you can make in five minutes.
So you remember the stairs to get to the grill in the backyard that I mentioned earlier? I’m feeling particularly bitter about those stairs because over the weekend as Ari, Jax, and I were carrying out leftover Key Lime and Strawberry Icebox Cake and some other goodies to the backyard to share with friends, I missed a step. Totally thought I had reached a landing but wasn’t quite there and my foot kept going and resulted in a sprain. The good news though is that I didn’t drop anything. A small but important win because while I’ve been recovering there’s been a lot of really awesome snacks to munch on. 

My careful not dropping the cake as I was in the process of hurling myself off stairs should serve as a pretty powerful testimonial to how awesome this recipe is. And if you don’t believe everything you read you’ll just have to try it out for yourself. Mmk?
Key Lime and Strawberry Icebox Cake
For the Cake:
  • 21 sheets of honey graham crackers
  • 12 oz (1.5 bars) of neufchâtel cheese (like cream cheese but with a lower fat content, it can be found in most grocery stores next to the cream cheese)
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 2.5 tsp lime zest (key limes if you can get them or regular ol' limes will do the trick)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (same note as above but if you're using regular limes taste the mixture after 2 Tbsp of juice)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar
Strawberry Coulis
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2-4 tsp sugar (I added two tsp because my berries were sweet and I wanted to keep the sauce a little more tart)
  • 1 Tbsp (scant) fresh lime juice
Options For Topping the Cake:
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Lime zest
  • White chocolate shavings (easy to do with a baking bar of chocolate and a vegetable peeler)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, whip the neufchâtel  cheese till it's creamy (about 1-2 minutes). Pour in the condensed milk and whip until smooth and blended. Add the lime juice and lime zest and whip together once more.
  2. In a separate bowl whip the heavy cream and confectioners sugar until you have whipped cream. (Tip: Using cold bowls and whisks/attachments will make this go much faster).
  3. Using a silicone spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.
  4. Using a baking dish or a sheet pan begin to build your cake. Spread a little of the filling on the bottom to help hold the first layer of graham crackers in place. I built it as 7 layers, 3 sheets across. Feel free to do it any configuration! Spread generous amounts of the filling between layers as a lot of it will get absorbed overnight. Reserve a little of the filling for touch-ups the next day. Using an offset spatula or a knife, even out the edges and the top.
  5. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the cake. Don't worry if it pulls a little of the top off the next day, you have extra filling to make it look great before you serve it!
  6. Refrigerate overnight. Plan to serve it within 24 hours of making. It's still delicious over the next few days, but for the best texture serve it as soon as possible after making it and letting it sit in the refrigerator.
  7. Before serving make your strawberry sauce by blending together the strawberries, lime juice and sugar. You can strain it to remove most of the seeds (I did), or leave it as is.
  8. Remove the cake from the fridge and transfer it to your serving dish. Pour your strawberry sauce over the cake and garnish with fresh strawberries, lime zest, and white chocolate shavings.