Sunday, March 11, 2018

Chocolate Mocha Refrigerator Cake and a Visit to Joshua Tree National Park, CA


If you're entertaining this Easter and don't have a lot of time to make dessert, I have the perfect solution for you!  This Chocolate Mocha Refrigerator Cake is not only delicious but also simple to make.  It needs to be made a day ahead so one less thing to stress about on the big day. 


And, did I mention versatile? All you have to do to make it your own is use a different flavor cookie and a different flavoring in the whipped filling.  See my suggestions below in the recipe. 


It's adapted from Ina Garten's Mocha Chocolate Ice Box Cake and we all know Ina's recipes are the best!  I hope you give this one a try.
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At the end of February and first few days of March, my husband and I joined a group of friends for a week-long getaway in Southern California.  Toasty warm it was not, but we were able to do all of the activities we had hoped to do.  One of which was a side trip to Joshua Tree National Park, which I have to say is spectacular!


These photos were taken while hiking the Hidden Valley trail, one of the easier hikes within the park.  The towering rock formations were formed millions of years ago by the tremendous heat and energy from two of earth's plates colliding and thrusting molten rock up from below.  Then, the forces of erosion brought them to the surface.  They attract world-class rock climbers from all over the world. If you look carefully, you can see a lone climber in the center photo on the right side of the rock wall and in the far right photo, above, there are several climbers sitting atop the formation. Click image for a larger view.


Forests of the iconic Joshua Tree (which is actually a form of yucca plant) dot the lower levels.  Because Hidden Valley is naturally encased by rock formations, it has a unique, micro-habitat of plants and animals not found together anywhere else in the park. It's a truly awe-inspiring area which I highly recommend should you ever have the opportunity to visit.

Chocolate-Mocha Refrigerator Cake

Printable Recipe

2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces Mascarpone cheese (found in tubs in the cheese section of the store)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur or Kahlua
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon instant espresso, instant coffee powder or other coffee flavoring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies, such as Tate's Bake Shop *see note
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms stiff peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch spring-form pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread one-fourth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching (breaking some again to fit the spaces, followed by another fourth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 4 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top with a spatula, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan and place cake (along with bottom of spring-form pan) on a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with the shaved chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cut in wedges, and serve cold.

*Any flat, "crispy" cookie will work.

Additional Suggestions:

Bailey's Irish Cream instead of Kahlua with Nabisco Chocolate Wafer Cookies
Amaretto Liqueur with Amaretti Cookies
Chambord Liqueur with Nabisco Chocolate Wafer Cookies

Adapted from Ina's Garten's Mocha Chocolate Ice Box Cake

36 comments:

  1. Well my dear this looks like a winner!Thank you for sharing the recipe and your trip.You can just tell how much it meant to you.
    Nature has such a way of of creating awe in us❤️👍🏻Happy for you and the pics are of course great!!

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    1. Thank you, Monique! Since we don't normally see those vistas in the Midwest they truly are awe inspiring. I'll never forget the first time we saw the Grand Canyon - Wowsers. ♥

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  2. Yum! This looks wonderful and I love how you can vary the cookies. Your trip sounds amazing Susan, how fun! What a spectacular little corner of God's creation!

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    1. I never realized how beautiful a place it was until we visited. Thank you, Chris!

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  3. Chocolate and mocha...a heavenly combo! I am very sure the cake tastes wonderful, Susan. And you look so FIT and happy!
    Have a great week ahead!

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    1. Indeed it is, Angie! It was a happy trip :) Thank you ♥

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  4. Great cake. Love the chocolate and mocha too. I don't think I have ever made anything from Ina's recipes that was not delicious. My only problem is she always cooks for a party and I need to half or sometimes cut it down by 2/3 s. Not that I am complaining. :) I made some minis with lemon and ginger snap cookies.

    Joshua Tree should be in bloom this time of the year.

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    1. I love the sound of your mini's, Madonna! Great idea. Some of the trees were just beginning to bloom when we were there. The weather was unseasonably cool.

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  5. I've never tried a refrigerator cake, it sure looks good:@)

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  6. What a great cake, Susan, it looks delicious! Interesting with the tree, I didn't realize it is a form of the yucca plant. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Pam! The entire place is interesting! So glad we saw it.

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  7. Sounds like a delicious cake and perfect for Easter... Fun photo of you! I am sorry that it was not warm in SoCal while you were there...guess you’ll have to return.

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    1. It would be perfect for Easter, Vee. Thank you! I guess I will have to return :)

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  8. I'm like you, Susan, and love Ina's recipes. Your cake looks heavenly, and I thank you for sharing it. I will be making this soon, and am thinking of the Irish Cream variation. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
    p.s. I also looked at your favorite measuring cups on your sidebar. I NEED them!

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    1. I thought the Irish Cream would be perfect for St. Patrick's Day with chocolate-chocolate chip cookies :) Those measuring cups are fantastic! I love how light and easy to grip they are ♥ Thank you, Kitty!

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  9. I forgot to say how cute you look in the picture! I know it was nice to get away with your hubby and friends.

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  10. You looks wonderful Susan, love the picture. I love this cake really delicious and this recipe sounds wonderful ! xoxo

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    1. Thank you very much for your sweet comment, Gloria ♥ The cake is very light and delicious.

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  11. Stunning photos Susan,Joshua Tree National Park is really spectacular!My mouth is watering,may I have a slice of that delicious cake ? Warm hugs from Trieste

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    1. It's a beautiful place, Chiara! Very stunning to see in person. Of course you may have a piece :) Warm hugs, My Dear.

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  12. The Refrigerator Cake looks delicious!

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  13. Great idea for when you are busy but want a delicious dessert. And you can always count on Ina’s recipes being delicious. We were at Joshua Tree last year and were so impressed by the landscape. Wish I could go back there again soon!

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    1. And need something that needs to be made a day ahead :) I'm glad you've seen Joshua Tree. I'd love to go back also.

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  14. Lovely easy dessert and wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. I've never been but would love this diverse landscape. I've never tried this version of a refrigerator cake but it looks and sounds terrific. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Tricia! The cake is a winner, for sure :) If you ever get to Southern California you should make the trip to Joshua Tree!

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  15. We invited friends over for dinner last month and she brought something similar for dessert. She called it an amaretto ice cream cake. Thanks for the recipe! Love the photos from your trip, have never been to that part of the country.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! It's so beautiful and unusual with all of the rock formations and desert botanicals.

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  16. I don't know what's more glorious. This cake or Joshua Tree. Both look fabulous!

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    1. He-he ;) They both are fabulous! Thank you, Abbe!

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  17. You just really made me miss California! Your cake is stunning. And maybe possible....

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    1. Thank you, Mimi! It is such a beautiful part of the country.

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  18. This is so perfect for in-between winter and spring. Beautiful.
    Joshua Tree looks fabulous and you no doubt had a blast.

    Velva

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