One of my favorite about the military life is having friends all over the country. It's especially fun this time of year as I watch the end of the school year announcements pour in. Here in Oklahoma we are already halfway through summer since our school year ended in May, but my friends in New England (where I grew up) just got out a week or two ago. Every time I open up Facebook I feel a twinge of jealousy at all the pictures of the beach and sailboats!
It occurred to me this year that the end of school seems to be tied with the beginning of strawberry season. Our Oklahoma strawberries peaked in late May/early June. Up in New England though the berries are still in full swing, just as the kids are getting out of school. Maybe that is why I love to see the fresh strawberries begin to appear in the garden and on the grocery store shelves. They are the first real harbinger of summer. They epitomize the bright, fresh feeling I have at the start of the season. Of course, the summer I love is really the New England or San Francisco summer, where you are still wearing sweaters and jeans half the time. Summer in the Great Plains, with 100+ degree days and no clouds is taking some getting used to.
This icebox cake is perfect for the beginning of summer. The flavor of the strawberries is front and center, with a dash of lemon to enhance them even more. Alternating layers of strawberries, whipped cream and graham crackers turn into a light and refreshing dessert after sitting overnight in the fridge. The whole thing is assembled in less than 20 minutes and can be made ahead. An added bonus for those of us in the middle of the heatwave? No oven required.
No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake
adapted from The Kitchn
2 pounds strawberries
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 c confectioners sugar
zest of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla
4 sleeves graham crackers
Wash, hull and thinly slice the strawberries. Put the cream, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular bowl to use a hand mixer). Place the bowl of ingredients and the whisk attachment to the mixer into the fridge for about 10 minutes. Once they've chilled a little bit, whisk the mixture until stiff peaks form.
Place a few spoonfuls of whipped cream on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Place 6 graham crackers on the bottom of the pan and then cover with a real layer of whipped cream. Then cover the whipped cream with the sliced strawberries. Do this 3 more times until you have four layers total of the graham crackers. Cover the top with whipped cream and one last layer of strawberries.
Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours, but overnight is even better. Serve cold.