Dijkstra Icebox Cake

Let your inner artist flourish with Modern Art Desserts by Cailtin Freeman, which is available now! This cake was inspired by the work of contemporary photographer Rineke Dijkstra. Caitlin was inspired by the swimsuit of one of the subjects in Dijkstra’s beach series portraits; the harsh lighting was an awkward contrast to the cool beach background.

Dijkstra Icebox Cake
from Modern Art Desserts by Caitlin Freeman (Ten Speed Press, 2012)

Makes 4 individual icebox cakes

Hands-on time: 30 minutes

From start to finish: 13 hours

Do Ahead: This cake must be assembled at least 12 hours before serving for the cookies to soften and become a delicious and forkable cake. The chocolate sablé dough must be rolled out, cut, and chilled before baking, so consider making it the day before that (two days before serving). The whipped cream should be made just before the ice box cake is assembled. Stored in an airtight container, the icebox cakes will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Above and Beyond: This dessert is delicious no matter what you serve it on. But it’s really easy, quick, and satisfying to take your own photos and then have them made into coasters; see Resources (page 205) for more information. When not topped with dessert, beach scene coasters are a charming conversation-starter for your next cocktail party.

Chocolate Sablé Dough:

12/3 cups (8.3 oz / 232 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.4 oz / 40 g) natural (not Dutchprocessed) unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup black cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
15 tablespoons (7.5 oz / 210 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (7.1 oz / 200 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt (see page 31)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, and then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and then add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until the dough is uniform, about 15 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another minute.


11/2 cups (12.4 oz / 348 g) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Set the sablé dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and press it into a flat, even, rectangle measuring about 5 by 6 inches. Lay a second sheet of parchment paper on top and roll out the dough to an even 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment and, using a 21/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough; you will need a total of 24 cookies. The dough will be soft, so don’t try to remove the circles until after chilling. Slide the parchment paper with the dough onto a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the dough is cold and firm, at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. The longer the dough chills, the less it will spread during baking.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a small metal spatula to transfer the dough circles to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Because this dough toughens too much when rerolled, we save any cookie dough scraps and bake them as snacks for our café employees. They are best baked on their own baking sheet, with the baking time reduced by 1 to 2 minutes.

Bake until crisp, about 6 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking.

(Note: because the sablés don’t change color during baking, it’s wise to bake a test batch of one or two cookies to check baking time for your oven before committing your whole batch.) Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream holds medium-soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk. If you’re not ready to use the whipped cream, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Set a cookie on your work surface; have the rest of them nearby. Fit a piping bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip and fill the bag about halfway with whipped cream. Position the tip about 1/4 inch above the cookie and, holding the bag stationary and perpendicular to the surface, pipe whipped cream onto the cookie until the cream forms a circle about 1/4 inch thick that reaches the edge of the cookie. Top with a second cookie. Repeat the layering until you have a stack of 6 cookies separated by 5 layers of cream (do not pipe cream onto the sixth cookie). Repeat with the remaining cookies and whipped cream; refill the piping bag as needed.

Place the stacks on a large plate and cover carefully with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours to let the layers meld into a forkable cake. Serve chilled.

For an additional recipe from Modern Art Desserts and to order your copy, check out our Scribd excerpt below!

Thiebaud Pink Cake Recipe from Modern Art Desserts by Caitlin Freeman by TheRecipeClub