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Whipped cream and berries provide a winning refrigerator cake combo.

Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

Refrigerator cakes provide a cool respite

  • Article by: By KIM ODE
  • Star Tribune
  • July 26, 2012 - 11:16 AM

A summer dessert, like the proverb's revenge, is best served cold.

A refrigerator cake is the "great aunt" of such desserts -- a little old-fashioned, yet exuding a bit of quiet elegance whenever she arrives on the scene. A serene square of chilled fruit, cool cream and a bit of cake provides a welcome antidote to a steamy evening, or a pretty dessert for a bridal shower (and is a whole lot more satisfying than a dish of sorbet).

Even better, such a cake has to be made ahead of time so it can chill thoroughly.

The term "refrigerator cake" encompasses a wide range of desserts, many of which had their origins in a layered combination of whipped cream and purchased chocolate wafers or graham crackers, so that kitchens never needed to be heated up by baking. Fruit was sometimes added. Then, perhaps with the advent of air conditioning or better insulated ovens, cake rose to claim its place as the best way to sandwich fruit and cream.

We used strawberries for our cake, but you can use almost any fruit you like: velvety mangoes, tart blueberries, fresh pineapple, even bananas with a sprinkling of toasted coconut. This isn't an especially sweet dessert, with no added sugar on the fruit and only a bit in the whipped cream, which means it's important to use fruit at peak ripeness.

With the whipping cream stabilized with some mascarpone cheese, the cake will keep in the fridge for two days, letting you slice off a bit of summertime solace whenever the heat and humidity start to toy with your sanity.

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