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Seven-Layer Icebox Cake

2 tsp. instant coffee granules
Hot water
Cold water
2 Tbsp. dark rum
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/3 to 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 boxes (7 oz) Petit Beurre cookies (56 cookies)

Chocolate curls
Additional unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
Candied violets

Ready a serving board or platter. The finished cake will be about
9 inches long by 4 inches wide by 2-1/2 inches tall. Remember you'll
have to slice the cake on the board or platter; I prefer to use
something rectangular and without sides. I also line my board with
aluminum foil, but this is optional. Have ready the Petit Beurre

In a one-cup liquid measuring cup, dissolve the coffee in a small
amount of hot water. Add cold water to the 1/2 cup mark. Add rum;
pour into small dish (with sides). The dish must be able to accomodate
one Petit Beurre, and the coffee-rum mixture in the dish must be
deep enough so that the Petit Beurre can be completely submerged
in it. Cover tightly and set aside at room temperature.

In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk beater, beat
softened butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sifted
confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Be sure to scrape
bowl and beater(s) with large rubber spatula often. When all dry
ingredients are added, increase speedto high; beat until fluffy.
Add vanilla at a low speed. If necessary to achieve good spreading
consistency, add a small amount of the coffee-rum mixture, a bit
at a time.

One at a time, dip each Petit Beurre in the coffee-rum mixture,
holding it under the liquid for a couple of seconds. Do not submerge
the Petit Beurres for so long that they become soggy. Each layer
of the cake will consist of eight dipped cookies in a four-by-two
pattern; the cookies should be touching one another. As you put
each dipped cookie into place, you'll be able to see the cookies
absorbing the coffee-rum. When you have formed the first cookie
layer of eight, frost the top. I use as much frosting as I can pile
onto a tablespoon (not a measuring tablespoon). An offset spatula
is a big help for this. Spread the frosting right to the edges of
the cookie layer. Don't use too much frosting, though, or you won't
have enough to go around.

Repeat the dipping, layering, and frosting of the cookies. As you
put a dipped cookie on top of a frosted layer, press it in slightly.
If necessary, straighten the sides of the cake with your hands.
When you've built up seven cookie layers, frost the top and sides
of the cake with the remaining frosting. If desired, gently pat
chocolate curls onto the top and long sides of the finished cake.
Chill at least 6 hours (or overnight), covering tightly when frosting
is set.

To serve, remove cake from refrigerator. Allow to stand at room
temperature, still covered, for about 20 minutes. To slice, use
a large, sharp, heavy knife; press it down firmly through the cake.
I like to make slices about 1/2 inch thick, but you can make them
thinner. Transfer each slice to a serving plate. If desired, dust
a little unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder around the edges
of the plate for decoration, and/or top each slice with a candied
violet or two. Store any leftovers in refrigerator, tightly covered,
for up to 5 days.

16 to 18 servings


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