Neapolitan Icebox Cake

Neapolitan ice cream (a combination of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) was one of my childhood favorites.  I loved the brown, white, and pink colors, all in a row, as well as the simple, old-school flavors. Today, when in front of the freezer section at the grocery store, I lean more towards the ice creams flavored with peanut butter filled pretzels or those swirled with caramel, but when I see the big old tub of Hood’s chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, I’m always tempted.

Here, I have incorporated those flavors into an icebox cake–made with three different flavored whipped creams–vanilla (flavored with extract), chocolate (flavored with cocoa powder) and strawberry (flavored with strawberry puree).  The recipe is super easy.  You make one batch of whipped cream and divide it between three bowls and flavor each one separately–super delicious. And a perfect way to use up some of the strawberries you keep buying at the farmer’s market.


Photo by Cayla Zahoran for Food 52


This recipe is also on Food52 and you can see me making it live on Food52’s Facebook page on Sunday July 16th at 11:00 am. Hope to see you there.


  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons, confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 drops red food coloring, optional
  • about 18 whole sheets of graham crackers


Line a 9-in-by-5-in loaf pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.

In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries, stopping the machine when they are still a bit chunky. Add the granulated sugar and stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar and whisk on medium to medium-high speed until the cream holds stiff peaks. With icebox cakes, I like to whip the cream a tad bit longer than one might otherwise do, as a stiffer cream ensures a sturdy cake.

Divide the cream into thirds, leaving one third in the stand mixer bowl and placing the other two in separate mixing bowls. To one of the mixing bowls, add the puree and fold gently with a rubber spatula. I like to add a drop or two of red food coloring, as well, so the strawberry color really pops, but this is optional. Set aside.

Sift the cocoa powder over the cream still in the stand mixer bowl, return the bowl to the stand mixer, and whisk on medium until the cocoa powder is fully incorporated. Set aside.

Begin assembling the cake by placing a layer of strawberry whipped cream on the bottom of the prepared pan. This is easier said than done, as the plastic wrap makes it a bit challenging. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. I like to make my strawberry layers just slightly bigger than the other layers, but that is just me.

Place a layer of graham crackers on top of the strawberry cream, breaking up additional crackers to fill in all the gaps. Ideally, you want a solid layer of crackers.

Layer the chocolate whipped cream over the crackers, then add another layer of crackers. Repeat with the vanilla whipped cream and a layer of crackers. Continue layering in this order (strawberry, chocolate, vanilla) once more. You should have 6 layers of whipped cream total, and six of crackers. The final layer will be one of crackers and may reach above the edge of the pan. You will have a bit of leftover strawberry whipped cream – hardly a tragedy.

Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours. When ready to serve, place the pan upside down on a serving platter and remove the pan and plastic wrap. Serve with fresh strawberries.

Here’s what it will look like on top.


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