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updated 10/22/2013 5:05:11 PM ET 2013-10-22T21:05:11

Recipe: Chocolate, banana, and graham cracker icebox cake

Ingredients
  • Canola or safflower oil, for pan
  • 15 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 20 graham cracker sheets (10 ounces)
  • 4 or 5 ripe bananas, very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Whipped Cream, for serving
Preparation

1. Lightly coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with oil and line with plastic wrap, leaving overhang on both long sides. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Combine yolks and salt in another heatproof bowl.

2. Bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Slowly pour cream into bowl with yolks, whisking constantly; return mixture to saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 8 minutes (do not let boil). Immediately strain through a fine sieve into bowl with chocolate; stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to spread, about 4 hours.

3. Spread 1 cup chocolate mixture evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Top with a layer of 4 graham crackers, trimmed to fit. Spread 1/2 cup chocolate over tops; cover with some banana slices. Carefully spread 1/2 cup chocolate over bananas; top with a layer of 4 trimmed graham crackers. Repeat with remaining chocolate, bananas, and graham crackers (alternating between bananas and crackers) until you reach the top of the pan; finish with graham crackers. Fold plastic over top to cover cake. Refrigerate overnight (or up to 2 days).

4. To serve, remove plastic from top of cake; unmold onto a platter. Peel off plastic wrap. Spread whipped cream over top of cake with an offset spatula. Cut into slices, wiping knife between slices.

Serving Size

Makes 10 servings

Recipe: Margarita cheesecake

Ingredients
  • For the crust:
  • 4 ounces salted pretzels (4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce bars) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon tequila
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons grated lime zest (from about 3 limes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Key limes or small Persian limes, very thinly sliced, for garnish
Preparation

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in center. In a food processor, pulse pretzels until fine crumbs form (you will have a little more than 1 cup). Add sugar and melted butter; process until combined. Press evenly in bottom and 1 inch up side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until golden brown, about 9 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

2. Make the filling: Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Wrap exterior of springform pan with a double layer of foil. Set a kettle of water to a boil. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium. Mix in sour cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, tequila, lime zest, and salt; beat until well incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

3. Pour cream-cheese mixture over cooled crust (filling will come up higher than crust). Set springform pan in a roasting pan. Carefully pour boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up side of springform pan.

4. Bake on center rack until cake is set and slightly firm to the touch, about 65 minutes. Transfer springform pan to a wire rack, and remove foil; let cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen before unmolding. Garnish with lime slices.

Serving Size

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Recipe: Red velvet cake

Ingredients
  • Unsalted butter, for pans 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola or safflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Cream-cheese frosting (recipe follows)
  • For frosting:
  • 1 pound (two 8-ounce bars) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners
Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line with parchment rounds, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat sugar and oil until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add food coloring and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

3. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar. Add to batter; beat 10 seconds. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto rack to cool completely.

4. Place bottom cake layer on a cake stand or platter, and spread evenly with about 1 1/2 cups cream-cheese frosting. Place second layer on top; spread and swirl remaining frosting over cake. Cake can be refrigerated up to 6 hours; bring to room temperature before serving.

For cream-cheese frosting:

1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add butter, beating until incorporated.

2. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, and beat until fluffy and smooth. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed before using.

Serving Size

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Recipe: Chiffon cake with strawberries and cream

Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil
  • 7 large egg yolks plus
  • 9 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (pod reserved for another use), or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the filling:
  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered (about 5 cups), plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners
Preparation

1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk together flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together oil, egg yolks, and milk in a large bowl. Whisk flour mixture into egg-yolk mixture.

2. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla seeds or extract; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one third of egg-white mixture into batter. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg-white mixture with a flexible spatula.

3. Transfer batter to a 9 1/2-inch tube pan. Bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 52 to 55 minutes. Invert pan onto its legs or over the neck of a glass bottle to cool 1 hour.

4. Make the filling: While cake is baking and cooling, in a bowl combine strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and let sit, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Just before assembling, with an electric mixer beat cream and confectioners' sugar until medium peaks form.

5. Slide a paring knife around edge of cake to loosen; release cake from pan. With a serrated knife, split cake horizontally into 3 layers. Transfer bottom layer to a cake plate or platter. Spread with half the berries; drizzle with juices. Spread half the whipped cream over berries; add middle cake layer. Spread with remaining berries and whipped cream. Top with remaining cake layer. Refrigerate cake 1 hour. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with more berries.

Serving Size

Makes 10 to 12 servings

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