Icebox Tiramisu

a delicious desseert mashup between classic tiramisu and ice box cake

Icebox Tiramisu is a mash-up between classic tiramisu and a good old fashioned ice box cake. Did your mom ever make the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer cake?

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icebox tiramisu- a mash-up between the classic italian dessert and good old fashioned ice box cake

The recipe dates all the way back to the 1920s, pretty much right after the cookies first came out. Somebody discovered that if you stacked the the thin chocolate wafers with layers of sweetened whipped cream, and then refrigerated the whole thing, the cream seeps into the cookies and results in an ice cold creamy cake. It’s been a summer staple ever since. I took the concept and ran with it. Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers take the place of ladyfingers for this no-bake faux tiramisu dessert. I used instant espresso, Kahlua, whipped cream and dark chocolate, along with the cookies, to make the chocolatey layers. I assemble them in individual mason jars or dessert glasses so everybody gets their own. They are fabulous, and keep perfectly in the fridge for a day or so.

Icebox Tiramisu, a no-bake dessert made with nabisco chocolate wafers

Each wafer gets a good soaking with a mixture of strong coffee and Kahlua, and then a sprinkling of shaved chocolate. I stack them 5 high with pillowy layers of sweetened whipped cream between each one. My wide mouth 1/2 pint canning jars are the perfect size to make and serve them in. Mine are from Kerr, but all the canning companies make them. They work great because you can assemble the cakes ahead of time, and then screw on the caps and refrigerate until needed. I top them with an extra dollop of whipped cream and more chocolate just before serving.

no bake layered tiramisu in mason jars

Mom’s icebox cake didn’t have the added benefit of strong coffee and Kahlua. The flavors soak into the cookies and make this dessert extra special. If you don’t have kahlua there are lots of other alternatives, like rum, Marsala, Amaretto, just name your pleasure. For the coffee you can use instant espresso, or your own brew, just make sure it’s nice and strong.

You can make these for a crowd, just allow 5 cookies per serving (there are about 40 cookies in the box). The Nabisco cookies have a way of flying off the shelves, especially now, in peak ice box cake season, so keep your eyes peeled. Amazon sells them, and you can also check out store brand alternatives.

a delicious desseert mashup between classic tiramisu and ice box cake

You can do this with other types of wafer cookies, too. My store has a lemon variety and I make a great Limoncello version of this same dessert.

creamy no-bake icebox tiramisu

Icebox Tiramisu, a no-bake dessert made with nabisco chocolate wafers
3.56 from 50 votes

Icebox Tiramisu

Author Sue Moran


  • 2/3 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tsp confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup cold instant espresso or brewed espresso, or very strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua
  • 20 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer cookies
  • 2 oz semi sweet chocolate for grating


  • Whip the cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until it's firm and holds it's shape.
  • Mix together the espresso and kahlua and set aside.
  • Take four glasses or small dessert bowls and layer one cookie at the bottom of each. Spoon 2 tsp of the espresso mixture on top, spreading it around so the entire cookie gets soaked.
  • Grate a layer of chocolate over the top of the cookie, using a microplane or small grater.
  • Put a dessert spoon full of cream on top of the cookie and chocolate. Take another cookie and lay it on top of the cream, pressing down slightly to spread the cream out. Continue layering until you have 5 layers, ending with whipped cream and a final sprinkling of chocolate.
  • Cover loosely and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, to get really cold.
  • Note: If you are making these in mason jars, don't put on the last topping of whipped cream, just screw on the caps and refrigerate until ready to serve, then top with the last layer of whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


Sometimes if I’m feeling in an elegant mood I’ll make these in vintage dessert glasses I find at thrift stores.

I highly recommend this recipe. It’s universally appealing, and very easy to throw together. I kept the serving size small, so they’re refreshing and not too heavy or caloric despite the whipped cream.

*This post has been updated and was originally published on June 11th, 2012


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2019 at 2:34 am

    My mum has been making tiramisu for the last 20 years when she got the recipe from my aunt in Rome, the thing is she’s ALWAYS used thickened (heavy) cream. I’ve made it many times at home & for work functions and it’s always been a hit. I don’t think we have those cookies in Australia, but using the cream does make it a very easy no bake dessert. I know quite a few chocoholics so this mocha version will go down a treat. These individual servings look awesome. Thank you for the lovely post.

  • Reply
    Elise N
    July 16, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    THESE LOOK AMAZING! Any time theres extra chocolate added Im in! and no bake for summer is ideal
    Just bummed Im gluten free and may be hard to find a good GF alternative cookie but Im going to try!

    • Reply
      July 16, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      There are quite a few gf lady fingers on the market to choose from.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2015 at 10:40 am

    This would be perfect for entertaining with the lovely presentation, Sue!

  • Reply
    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust
    June 16, 2015 at 10:46 am

    This is SUCH a great idea!! I can eat those wafers a box at a time so making them into tiramisu? So dangerous!

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