Strawberry Pistachio Icebox Cake

The Ultimate in Strawberries and Cream

Is there any more heavenly combination than strawberries and cream? Actually—yes. Strawberries and pistachio. More accurately, strawberries and pistachio and cream. Okay, okay: strawberries, pistachio, cream and cookies. That’s it! I swear!

This is all you need to begin the most divine of all icebox cakes. What is an icebox cake, you ask? It’s like a trifle, minus the custard, booze optional. This is a family-friendly, liqueur and liquor-free concoction, and it is a crowd pleaser. There is nothing to it, but slapping some fabulousness together and letting it sit overnight until it becomes Über-fabulous. Heaven in a bowl, and easy as you please.

I’ve made this before with vanilla whipped cream and it was so good we all scarfed it down until our tummies hurt and then got up again the next morning to gobble it down for breakfast. But strawberry and pistachio has to be one of my all-time favourite combinations (you’ll see many incarnations of this delicious pairing to come on this blog) and it fits so perfectly here.

I have used a store-bought pistachio butter, but from the finest of food merchants: SOMA Chocolatemaker in Toronto. You can make your own, of course, but why would you, when products like this exist. Next time you are in the Distillery District or on Queen West, stop in a grab a couple of jars (the hazelnut too), along with a myriad of other treats.*

SOMA Chocolatemaker makes beautiful pistachio paste.

If you’d like to try this with Homemade Pistachio Paste, the incomparable Stella Parks aka BRAVETART gives you the key here. But I had the SOMA version in my cupboard, and the only raw pistachios I could find were from California. They are bland and lacking in the subtle, magical, ethereal pistachio flavour that comes from Sicilian, Iranian or Moroccan pistachios. So while I’m waiting on a special order of the very best pistachios, I’ll happily buy this smooth and flawless nut butter by people who know their stuff when it comes to good food.

When you layer this cake, the cookies and strawberries will not lay flat or smooth, so you’ll press and spread the cream a bit to fill in any air holes. What doesn’t get filled will likely disappear as the dry cookies expand, absorbing liquid from both strawberries and cream, transforming overnight into the most heavenly, cakey, delightfully cream-covered strawberry slop you will ever have. It’s messy and sludgy and gorgeous in its deliberate disarray.

If you think something so simple and so easy can’t be this divine, you will be amazed and delighted beyond all measure. Try it. What have you got to lose, but your deference to structure, form and—once you taste it—proportion?

*For goods from SOMA: You don’t need to hit the brick & mortar actual store. Everything is online, with FREE shipping within Canada (min $50) & Porch Drops (min $50) + Next Day Curbside pick-ups at the factory. online@somachocolate.com. And NO! They did not pay me to say this. Sadly. Doesn’t matter. Just get your hands on some of this business because it’s the real deal.

Strawberry Pistachio Icebox Cake

Strawberries and pistachio cream soften vanilla cookies into a cake-like texture for a bowl of glorious decadence.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 1 day
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, British, Canadian
Keyword: #chantillycream, #feedsacrowd, #goopygood, #iceboxcake, #iceboxcakerecipe, #makeahead, #overnightcake, #pistachio, #pistachiocream, #strawberries, #strawberry, #strawberrycake, #strawberrycakerecipe, #summerdesserts, #whippingcream
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 4 pints strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 4 cups whipped cream (1 L)
  • 1 box Nilla wafers
  • ½ cup pistachio paste (storebought or homemade)
  • ½ cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Rinse and slice three pints of strawberries. For the last pint, remove the green tops and set those berries aside for later.
  • Add ½ cup of cream to the bowl of a standmixer along with the pistachio paste. Using the paddle attachment, blend on low until the pistachio is fully incorporated into the cream, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  • Add sugar, vanilla and the rest of the cream. Using the whisk attachment, beat together on low until mostly blended, about one minute, then beat on high until stiff peaks form.
  • Smear a ½ cup of pistachio cream on the bottom of your bowl (preferably glass) to anchor your cookies.
  • Your layers should proceeds like this: cookies, strawberries, cream. Smooth your cream over each layer gently. You want to fill in any huge gaps without completely squahing and deflating the cream. A few holes are not a problem, they will fill up as the cookies expand.
  • Keep going until you are out of sliced berries. Top with one last layer of cream, and chill overnight. You can add your whole berries to decorate before you chill it or after, whicheve rmakes it easier to wrap it up. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Elderflower Sangria

WITH CAPE GOOSEBERRIES, GOLDEN KIWI & GREEN GRAPES

A good sangria is a special summer delight. Too often, however, they are overly sugary concoctions, the kind that makes you sick rather than delightfully sated. The use of sharp, tangy wine, heavily sweetened juice or pop, and indiscriminate marriages of post-ripe fruits sounds more like a cheap cocktail than a divine elixir.

I’m a big fan of using what you have to make wonderful surprises when you’re cooking. But a sangria is not a stew. Let us build and layer flavours that complement and contrast each other until you’ve got a fruit blend worth macerating in advance of company arriving. 

Instead of mixing wine with juice, hard liquor, simple syrup, ginger ale or soda, I went for two simple liquid ingredients: elderflower liquor and sweet sparkling wine. Almost more like an elderflower cocktail than a sangria. Infusing the fruit in advance, however, means that it takes on enough essence and booziness to transform it into the kind of chunky, alcohol-laden bits one expects to find at the bottom of a glass of sangria. 

Layer your fruit a day ahead to soak up the liquor.

Cape Gooseberries have a unique flavour and a hearty texture that make them worthy of fishing out of your glass (with a spoon!) when the drink is drunk. They are only slightly smaller than the grapes. I tried cutting them, but they released too many seeds for my liking. I settled for giving them a pinch or a squish with the back of a spoon before dropping them into the pitcher.

Yellow kiwis are a favourite of mine too, because the flavour is light without being citrusy or floral – it has its own unique taste, with that lovely firm texture. It lacks that sharp acidic bite that is sometimes overwhelming in green kiwi. Perfect for soaking up a little extra flavour from the elderflower liquor. 

Fruit is the hero in this gentle concoction.

Eldflower liquor is sometimes looked down on as “the bartender’s ketchup” or “the poor man’s vanilla”, but such snobbery is irrelevant for a crowd-pleasing punch. I especially love that it gently enhances and underscores the fruit, which is still the hero of the day. Or night. 

Light & breezy summer sangria.

Enjoy the easiest ever white sangria! 

Elderflower Sangria with Cape Gooseberries, Golden Kiwi & Green Grapes

A super-simple, make-ahead recipe for white sangria with only three ingredients: fruit, sparkling wine, and elderflower liqueur. Featuring Cape gooseberries & golden kiwi.
Prep Time: 1 day
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #capegooseberries, #goldenkiwi, #sangria, #sparklingrosé, #sparklingwine, #summersangria, #summervibes, #whitesangria, Summertime
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • Pitcher
  • Mason jar
  • Potato masher

Ingredients

  • ½  cup Cape Gooseberries, husked and rinsed (100g)
  • ½  cup green grapes, de-stemmed and rinsed (100 grams)
  • 1 bottle elderflower liqueur (200 mL)
  • 1 bottle sparkling white or rosé wine

Instructions

  • Place the grapes and Cape Gooseberries in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. You want them slightly crushed, not a bowl of fruity mush. If there are any outliers, feel free to pop them with your fingers, like you would bubble wrap.
  • Add peeled and chopped golden kiwis, cuttign them about the same size as the grapes and gooseberries.
  • Pour the fruit and their juices into a mason jar or other container. 
  • Cover with elderflower liquor and shake well. Place in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours. 
  • Pour in a jug. Add sparkling wine or prosecco, taking care not to stir too hard. iPour into ice-filled glasses and top with a Cape Goosberry with the husk pulled up but not detached.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Wannabe Italian Potato Salad

Mayonnaise or vinaigrette? Neither! This potato salad only uses olive oil—the best you have—to bind the potatoes together. Don’t be tempted to add balsamic vinegar, that’s not what this dish is about. Eat it hot or cold, same day or made ahead. Everybody who I’ve ever served this to has immediately declared it to be their favourite potato salad ever. With thanks to my lovely friend MJ who served it to me many years ago in Montreal. 

Reading the ingredient list, you may find the proportions of oil and garlic here a little extra. Please consider that when dining at your favourite restaurant, you don’t really want to know how they made it taste that good. Or, cut the recipe in half and it suddenly sounds like it contains more reasonable amounts. I honestly never measure my ingredients when I make this. But since this is a recipe, let’s just accept that we are using a heavy hand with a very short ingredient list. Don’t let that put you off trying it. People love it! Promise. I would not lie about potato salad. And don’t skimp on the garlic, or your potatoes will be underwhelming. 

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs new potatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup best quality olive oil
  • 2-3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with handful of kosher salt. The salt will season the potatoes as they cook. For smaller potatoes, cut them in half. For larger ones, cut them in quarters. Even proportions being the thing for even cooking. Boil them until a fork goes in easily into the middle. 

While the potatoes are cooking, peel and mince your garlic. Wash the basil—honestly, this is the longest and most tedious part—and get rid of any stems. Spin them dry in a salad spinner—you don’t want to add water to the salad. Reserve a handful for decoration and chop the rest roughly. 

When the potatoes are cooked and drained, put them in a large bowl and toss them immediately with a LOT of salt* and garlic. Slosh some olive oil—about half—over the potatoes and stir it in, then add the basil to the still hot potatoes. Stir it in until all wilted, then add the rest of the oil and more salt if desired. It doesn’t matter if the potatoes get a little crumbly or mushy around the edges. You can’t really mess up potatoes. 

Grind fresh pepper on, then top with whole leaves as garnish. Watch them be devoured! And when people ask you for the recipe, you can honestly say you just threw a few ingredients together. 

notes:

  • No iodized salt! Kosher or sea salt only. You will easily taste the iodine in this simple dish.
  • This is a decadent but excellent use of your best quality olive oil. I use Single Grove.