Hosting a crowd for dinner? No sweat. With one of these make-ahead icebox desserts chilling, it's easy to keep your cool.
strawberry Icebox Cake
ACTIVE: 25 MIN I TOTAL: 25 MIN PLUS FREEZING I SERVES 16
1 lb strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4-oz envelope unflavored gelatin (from a 1-oz box)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
27 chocolate wafer cookies (such as Famous Chocolate Wafers)
1 Line the bottom of an 8 1/2x4 1/2-in. loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. In a food processor, pulse the strawberries, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
2 Transfer 1/4 cup of the strawberry mixture to a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let stand for 1 minute. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes. Transfer the gelatin mixture to the food processor and pulse to combine.
3 Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream and yogurt in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold the strawberry mixture into the yogurt-cream mixture until fully incorporated.
4 Arrange 3 cookies, spacing them evenly, on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place 3 cookies standing up against each long side of the pan. Spoon the strawberry mixture on top. Using 2 cookies on opposite long sides of the pan as your guide, place 6 cookies standing up in the mixture between them, creating a row of 8 cookies. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. (You should have 3 total rows of 8 cookies each. Go to womansday.com/icebox for an instructional video.) Cover and freeze for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
5 When ready to serve, invert the cake onto a cutting board and remove pan and parchment. Cut crosswise into slices.
PER SERVING: 154 CAL, 8 G FAT (5 G SAT FAT), 27 MG CHOL, 90 MG SOD, 3 G PRO, 18 G CAR, 1 G FIBER
chocolate-peanut butter ICE CREAM CAKE
ACTIVE: 10 MIN I TOTAL: 10 MIN PLUS FREEZING I SERVES 12
4 cups rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
3 pints chocolate chip or other ice cream
1 Place the cereal in a large bowl.
2 In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate and peanut butter. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
3 Add the chocolate-peanut butter mixture to the cereal and mix to coat. Spread the cereal mixture onto the bottom and 1 1/2 in. up the sides of a 9-in. springform pan. Freeze until set, about 10 minutes.
4 Let the ice cream soften at room temperature just until spreadable, about 10 minutes. Spread ice cream evenly into the chilled crust and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
PER SERVING: 366 CAL, 22 G FAT (10 G SAT FAT), 25 MG CHOL, 159 MG SOD, 7 G PRO, 37 G CAR, 2 G FIBER
ACTIVE: 25 MIN I TOTAL: 25 MIN PLUS CHILLING I SERVES 24
6 ripe peaches, each cut into 8 wedges
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup connfectioners' sugar
3/4 tsp pure almond extract
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 oz raspberries
1 10-oz angel food cake
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds, toasted
1 In a large bowl, toss the peaches and granulated sugar. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 15 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and almond extract in a large bowl until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the cream, beating until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form (do not overbeat; mixture should have the consistency of a soft mousse).
3 Add the raspberries to the peaches and toss to combine. Cut the cake into 1/2-in.-thick slices. Arrange 1/3 of the slices in the bottom of an 8-in. trifle bowl.
Spoon 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture (2 cups). Sprinkle with 1/2 cup almonds. Repeat layers two more times, ending with cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup almonds before serving.
PER SERVING: 236 CAL, 17 G FAT (9 G SAT FAT), 50 MG CHOL, 144 MG SOD, 4 G PRO, 20 G CAR, 2 G FIBER
prep tip For an adults-only upgrade, omit the almond extract and toss the peaches with the granulated sugar and 2 Tbsp amaretto liqueur.
frozen coconut S'MORES
ACTIVE: 25 MIN I TOTAL: 25 MIN PLUS FREEZING I MAKES 32
6 to 8 graham crackers (the entire rectangle)
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus more shaved, for serving
3 large egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
1 Line the bottom of a 9-in.-square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Place graham crackers in the bottom of the pan, cutting them to fit as necessary.
2 Heat 1/3 cup of the cream in a small saucepan until it barely begins to simmer; remove from heat. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the graham crackers. Freeze for 10 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form; set aside. In a seperate large bowl, using the electric mixer (no need to clean the beaters), beat the cream of coconut and the remaining cup of cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the coconut-cream mixture until fully incorporated.
4 Spread the coconut mixture evenly over the chilled chocolate and freeze, covered, for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, use the parchment overhangs to lift and transfer the s'more to a cutting board. Cut into 32 bars and top with shaved chocolate, if desired.
PER BAR: 173 CAL, 12 G FAT (8 G SAT FAT), 27 MG CHOL, 51 MG SOD, 2 G PRO, 16 G CAR, 1 G FIBER
note Since the egg whites in this dessert are not cooked, it may be best for children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems to avoid eating it.