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This Pumpkin Icebox Cake Is the Perfect Thanksgiving Treat for Lazy People

Lifehacker logo Lifehacker 11/15/2018 Claire Lower
a piece of cake on a plate © Photo: Claire Lower

May I confess something? I don’t enjoy baking. Maybe it’s because I have grown to dislike anything that even vaguely reminds me of my former life as a chemist, or maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but baking is not fun for me, and I avoid it whenever I can (and make A.A. Newton do it instead). I do, however, like eating sweets, and an icebox cake lets me combine my love of eating delicious desserts with my love of not doing very much.

If you also hate to measure, but love sugar, or are perhaps a literal child, the pumpkin icebox cake is the Thanksgiving dessert for you. It’s seasonal, it’s riffable, and it’s easy—some might even say “fun”—to assemble. Is it “just a pile of cookies and whipped cream?” Yes. Yes, it is. But you can’t honestly tell me that sounds bad.

Another thing I like about this cake is that you can decide exactly how pumpkin-y you want it to be. Just fold in tablespoons of pumpkin puree until you reach your desired level of seasonal squash flavor, and do the same with those complementary spices. You can also change the cookies if you want. I used Anna’s Ginger Thins, but graham crackers or those pumpkin spice Oreos would work, too. For what it’s worth, graham crackers make the most stable base, but even the ginger thins—which shatter if you whisper at them—will hold together if you give them enough time in the fridge. If you want to be really lazy, or want to make this more child-friendly, swap whipped cream for whipped topping. (It doesn’t need to be sweetened, and will keep its structure even if your kids get carried away when “gently” folding in the pumpkin.)

Pumpkin Icebox Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend
  • Cookies, the amount of which will vary depending on the size and shape of your cake pan (I used two sleeves of ginger thins, which is about 60 Oreo-sized cookies.)

Instructions:

Combine the cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer or immersion blender until soft peaks form. (I prefer the immersion blender in the this case, as it makes a denser whipped cream that keeps its structure a little better than the fluffier stuff.) Gently fold in some pumpkin puree, taste, and add more if you want to. Fold in the pumpkin spice.

Lay down your cookies in whatever shape you wish them to take. You can put them in a casserole dish, a pie pan, or just build them freeform on a plate. Scrape the whipped cream into a piping bag (or freezer bag with the tip snipped off) and pipe it out in an even layer, using an offset spatula to smooth it out. Lay down more cookies, repeat. If you like really thick layers of cream, you may only get a couple of layers; thinner layers will—obviously—require more cookies. Continue alternating cream and cookies until your cake has reached the height you wish it to, then pop the whole thing in the fridge for at least four hours, or overnight, until the cookies have softened and the cake is sliceable. Just before serving, sprinkle on some more pumpkin spice, or let the kids decorate it with candy and sprinkles.

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