Old-Fashioned Chocolate Refrigerator Cake
A Cake Made Out of Homemade Cookies
When Mary was a child, this was a favorite cake in her household, made from store-bought chocolate wafers. Our version is so much more delicious, made with homemade cookies.
When we were testing the recipe in the Spago kitchen, Zinna, one of Mary's assistants, suggested that we decorate the cake like an old-fashioned refrigerator. It was a stroke of genius!
You can whip the cream as the cookies are baking and refrigerate it, covered, until needed. Whisk a few times before spreading on the cookies.
Line one or two baking trays with parchment paper. Prepare Chocolate Pate Sucree.
Chocolate Pate Sucree (Chocolate Cookies)
Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, sugar and cocoa with a few on/off turns. Arrange the pieces of butter around the blade and process just until combined.
In a small cup or bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. With the processor running, pour through the feed tube, making certain you scrape out all the liquid from the cup. Let the machine run until the dough begins to come together, about 1 minute.
Scrape the dough out of the processor onto plastic wrap and flatten into a round. Wrap securely and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours, preferably overnight. Use as needed.
To prepare ahead: Through step 3, Chocolate Pate Sucree can be refrigerated 2 to 3 days, and frozen 2 to 3 weeks. Defrost, wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.
Note: Chocolate Pate Sucree cannot only be used as pie or tart crust, but it makes delicious cookies and cakes. It is a bit more difficult to judge when the chocolate crust is done because of the color, so be especially careful not to overbake. Makes 1 pound, 12 ounces — enough for two 8-inch tarts
Then, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle, about 12 x 20 inches. Using a 2 3/4-inch cookie cutter, cut out 24 circles. Gently press the scraps of dough together and roll out to a rectangle about 12 x 10 inches. Cut out the remaining 12 circles.
As the cookies are cut out, arrange them on the prepared baking trays. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the baking trays from the refrigerator. Prick the cookies with the tines of a fork, making a decorative pattern. Bake until crisp, 13 to 14 minutes, reversing the trays back to the front after 7 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Spread a thick layer of whipped cream on one side of a cookie and gently press a second cookie against the whipped cream. Spread cream on the unfrosted side of the second cookie and press the third cookie against the second. Continue layering with cream and cookies until you have a long row of nine cookies.
Carefully lay the row of cookies on a large flat tray. Make another set of nine cookies and whipped cream and lay it right next to the first row. Make a third and fourth row, placing each alongside the first two rows.
Spread the remaining whipped cream over and around the cookies, covering the entire surface and leveling with a small spatula. Refrigerate until needed.
In a small heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate until almost melted. Remove from the heat and let melt completely, stirring once or twice. Prepare a small piping bag made with parchment paper. Spoon the melted chocolate into the piping bag, cut a tiny opening at the very tip, and decorate the top of the cake as you wish — perhaps to resemble the outside of a refrigerator-freezer.
Return the cake to the refrigerator until serving time. For easy slicing, it is best to refridgerate for about four hours before serving cake.
To serve, slip a wide metal spatula under the cake and set it on a flat serving plate. Surround with fresh berries. (This is something you want all your guests to see.) Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake across the four rows into thin slices. Place a slice on a dessert plate and garnish with a few of the berries.
To prepare ahead: Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Through step 5, the cake should be finished early in the day!
Recipe copyright ©1999 by Mary Bergin