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Monday, June 16, 2014

happy food: easy orange happiness cake

On a summer day in June a few years ago,  L. and I spent a fun afternoon sampling wedding cakes. Our top choices were the Red Velvet and the Coconut Cream. That was until we tried the Orange Dreamsicle Cake. I remember we both sampled a bite at the same time. We looked at each other and nodded. Yes, yes, yes, this was it. At the clambake the night before the wedding we enjoyed Red Velvet Cake but on our wedding day, we happily savored the memorable Orange Dreamsicle Cake.

Ever since then, just the smell of orange vanilla makes me smile. There is something so happy and fresh about the combination of orange + vanilla. With summer just starting, I wanted to make a dessert for a party we were hosting but I wanted it to be something easy and cool. Something I didn't have to cook would be even better. Researching cakes online, I came a Barefoot Contessa Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake that looked wonderful. I wondered if I could adapt it for an orange vanilla flavor. I did and in the first attempt, this no-bake cake was perfect. I have since made it three more times and each time it is as delicious as the first.

If you're thinking about a dessert that tastes like a perfect, sunny June day, this is it.

Orange Happiness Cake


2 cups cold heavy cream
12 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)

2 packages of store bought vanilla cookies (The thinner the better. I started with thick cookies but for future cakes I used Trader Joe's Ultimate Vanilla Wafers.)


(optional) Using a very fine grater, grate orange rind, carefully using just the orange rind and not the white pith.

In a large bowl add the cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, orange juice, orange extract and vanilla extract. Mix until thickened and peaks form.  Set aside.

In a springform pan, assemble a layer of vanilla cookies. On top of the cookies, spread a layer of the orange-vanilla cream. Add another layer of cookies followed by a layer of orange-vanilla cream. Keep adding layers until you reach just below the top of the pan. Finish with a layer of orange-vanilla cream.

Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Run a sharp knife along the inside of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan. Carefully remove the springform side of pan. Slice and serve.

Easy tip: If you don't have a springform pan or you want to serve this at a buffet-style party, you can prepare this easily in a trifle bowl or even a casserole bowl by following the above directions but serve portions with a serving spoon.

Options: The base recipe is easily adaptable to other flavors. Try chocolate cookies + 1/4 cup of raspberry jam instead of orange juice.

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