Meyer Lemon and Basil Icebox Cakes

Cakes that don’t require baking are a dangerous thing…Ever since I saw the cover of Sweet Paul magazine, I’ve been wanting to make an icebox cake. We finally had a weekend with gorgeous sunny weather in the midwest, and I felt the need to use Meyer lemons. And basil. Oh, basil. My favorite herb on the planet! This is the time of year when you can get a huge bunch at the farmer’s market for just a couple dollars. (Yes, I know many of you never pay for basil because you grow gads of it in your own back yard. Don’t talk to me, please.) These little no-bake mini cakes use flavors that scream springtime.

Icebox “cakes” are assembled from cookies and cream, store in the fridge overnight, and come out tasting like you spent hours slaving over the perfect dessert.  Hello new favorite recipe!! I made mini cakes, but you could use this same recipe to make one larger cake.
 I can’t believe how easy it was. The hardest part was waiting 8 hours to eat. (Confession: I did not wait 8 hours before I tried one. However, the ones I ate the next day were so much better.) When they come out of the fridge, the cookies have magically and wonderfully “transformed” into the consistency of cake. Seriously. I felt like I had witnessed a miracle…


-3 Meyer lemons (Regular lemons would be fine too.)
-Fresh basil
-1 jar of lemon curd (find in grocery aisle with jams and jellies)
-1 and ½ cup heavy whipping cream
-8 ounces mascarpone cheese
-1 and ½ cup powdered sugar
-1/2 cup cane sugar
-2 packages thin wafer cookies (I used Anna’s ginger thins.)


1. Make basil simple syrup by adding 2/3 cup water, ½ cup cane sugar and roughly ½ cup basil leaves to a pot. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Be sure to cool completely before adding to cream later.
2. While simple syrup is heating, zest and juice the lemons. Set both aside.
3. Add mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar to stand mixer (or use hand mixer) and blend until powder is absorbed. Add four tablespoons of lemon juice and two teaspoons of lemon zest. Beat on low just until liquid is absorbed.
4. Next add 4 tablespoons of the cooled basil simple syrup and cream to the mixer. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat.
5.  Assemble cakes in this order: Cookie, cream, cookie, lemon curd, cream, cookie, cream, cookie, lemon curd, cream, cookie, cream. 
6. Cover in airtight containers and place in fridge for 8 hours. RIght before serving, sprinkle tops with finely chopped basil and lemon zest. 
Yields: 12 mini cakes or 1 large cake.
This was a weekend of cake and yard work. Stu spent hours on the beds, remulching and pulling weeds. I even ventured off to the local nursery, a place I truly should never be allowed. Anyone remember Heathcliff Huxtable’s love of the hardware store? He’d come home with tools that lured him in. He would dress the part of a handyman and then end up messing things up worse than they were before. All the while Claire just shook her head, knowing that money was being flushed down the drain and a call to a real handyman would be necessary to fix Cliff’s mistakes. 
That is EXACTLY how I feel at the nursery. I am enamored by the wonder of plants, bulbs, flowers-heck, even organic potting soil. I get home and have no clue what I am doing. Well, today a friend just happened to be working at the nursery, and I soaked up every word she said. The whole time I tried to act confident, hiding my nerves and the nagging thought that this is just another plant massacre in the making. I spent the whole drive home just praying that these “no fuss” perennials can stay alive in my care…I have my doubts, but the plants are in the ground.
Am I the only one obsessed with doing something at which they are clearly a failure?
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8 Comments Filed Under: Recipes

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    1. says

      Oh my these look incredible! I would also have a really hard time waiting that 8 hours. I’d probably have to make them just before bed to prevent myself from eating them.

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