Blueberry-Lemon Icebox Cake

The past several months have been a blur. Between the holidays, seemingly endless entertaining, travel and launching a new company, I’ve relied more than ever on a well stocked freezer. Not just for surviving the oh $%&*#, it’s 5:30 and I haven’t even thought about dinner moments, but for taking some of the stress out of entertaining as well.

When I am looking for something to serve friends for dessert, I just have two requirements. First, it has to have good “curb appeal” – meaning a nice presentation. {If I was going for presentation alone, I’d binge watch a season of The Great British Baking Show and pick one of their show-stoppers. Great for inspiration, but for minimizing stress? Not so much…}

The second requirement is that I need to be able to make it ahead. Yes, I’ve finished a Baked Alaska in “real time” while guests watched. I don’t know which was more sweaty – me or the meringue on the top.

I prefer taking the stress out of the dessert phase and getting it done the day before. That way, if I’m experimenting and things go horribly wrong, I can go to Plan B.

Or just pick up more wine.

This Blueberry-Lemon Icebox Cake is a perfect end to a meal. I initially thought it would make a terrific summer dessert – cold and light, with tangy lemon and creamy mascarpone cheese. But it’s also a great way to brighten a stretch of gray winter days.

There’s no baking {or blowtorch} involved – just mixing and assembly.

You can make the Blueberry-Chia Seed Jam topping a few weeks ahead and refrigerate. Although, that’s dangerous because you’ll find other ways to serve it in the interim. It would make a great topping for a round of brie with crackers and cocktails, or finish off a stack of pancakes for brunch.

Make the cake a day – or even a week ahead, and freeze until ready to serve. {Freeze it unwrapped for about 45 minutes, or until the mascarpone is hard, then wrap in plastic wrap.}

Blueberry-Lemon Icebox Cake
Blueberry-Chia Seed Jam
  • 3 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 8 ounces mascarpone or plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
  • 2½ cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought lemon curd, divided
  • 16 graham crackers, divided
  • 1½ cups Blueberry–Chia Seed Jam, divided
  • ⅓ cup fresh blueberries
  1. Bring blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and maple syrup to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, just until blueberries begin to burst, about 5 minutes. Use a spoon to lightly mash about half of the berries to release their juices. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until juices are reduced by half, 5–10 minutes.
  2. Remove jam from heat; taste and add a bit more maple syrup if you prefer it to be sweeter. Return to a boil, then stir in chia seeds; cook 1 minute to soften seeds. Let jam cool slightly, then transfer to heatproof jars or containers. Cover and let cool completely. Chill until ready to use.
  3. Line a 9x5" loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang on all sides. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat mascarpone, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually add cream. Increase speed to medium as mixture thickens; beat until medium peaks form. Transfer two-thirds of mascarpone mixture to another large bowl and fold in ½ cup lemon curd. Cover remaining mascarpone mixture; chill until ready to unmold and cover cake.
  4. Place a single layer of graham crackers over bottom of prepared pan, breaking as needed to fit. Using a small offset spatula, evenly spread a quarter of lemon cream over graham crackers. Dollop ½ cup jam over top, then gently spread evenly over lemon cream. Drizzle ¼ cup lemon curd over. Spoon a third of remaining lemon cream over curd and top with another layer of graham crackers. Repeat layering process with half of remaining lemon cream, ½ cup jam, and remaining lemon curd. Finish with a final layer of lemon cream, then graham crackers. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze at least 6 hours. Cover and chill remaining jam until ready to serve cake.
  5. Uncover cake and invert pan onto a platter. Using the plastic overhang to help you, unmold cake; peel off plastic. Spread top and sides of cake with reserved mascarpone mixture (if mixture looks a little loose, whisk until soft peaks form before using). Chill in freezer at least 15 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, mix blueberries into reserved jam and spoon over cake. Garnish with additional lemon zest if desired.


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