We are emerging from another heatwave here in Toronto. The humidity and 30°+ temperatures were kind enough to stick around long enough for me to shoot this Matcha Pistachio Icebox Cake. If you’re finding your life is a little too chill I highly recommend doing a photo shoot of an ice-cream-anything during a heatwave. It really elevates the heart rate. But if you’re making this icebox beauty for you and some pals, you’ll be fine even in 30°C weather because this cake is surprisingly simple to make. All you need is a couple of pints of ice cream, a batch of homemade cookies, and a little patience. There are quite a few chilling interludes in this recipe. So let’s dive right in!
Let’s start with the most time-consuming portion of this recipe – the cookies. These cookies are the matcha pistachio equivalent to the Nilla Wafer. Yes, I made my own Nilla Wafers, which I’m sure makes you wonder why on earth anyone would bother making Nilla Wafers when perfectly delicious Nilla Wafers exist in stores. You might also be wondering if I am sponsored by Nilla Wafers given how many times I’ve said “Nilla Wafers” in this paragraph. The answer to the first question is I don’t know, there is something wrong with me. And the answer to the second question is no. But I wouldn’t be opposed to it especially if free Nilla Wafers are part of the deal.
I went the homemade cookie route for two reasons. I bought the ice cream and I have a guilt complex about that sort of thing, so I had to make something. And I only wanted the Nilla Wafer texture, not the flavor. I specifically wanted the cookie to match the flavors of the two ice creams. In this case, it was pistachio and matcha. Since they don’t make a pistachio and matcha Nilla Wafer, I had to make my own. And you know what? They aren’t that difficult to make. Forming 50 cookies was the only frustrating portion of the recipe. Otherwise, it’s a very straightforward cookie recipe.
Now, I used salted pistachios in my cookies because I couldn’t find unsalted and I wasn’t willing to check another grocery store. If you find yourself in the same lazy boat, just nix the salt in the cookie recipe and proceed as written. If you can find unsalted pistachios, buy them. They are preferable. I always opt for unsalted everything in baking because I want control. Some pistachios are saltier than others and I don’t know what kind you are buying or what impact they will have on your cookies. It’s better to add 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt to a batter because 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt is always 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt. So if you can find unsalted pistachios, get them. But don’t kill yourself trying to find them. Just assume they are very salty (most are) and leave off the salt.
Once your cookies are baked, the hardest part of this recipe is over. I mean, aside from the waiting. I tend to find that the hardest. From here, it’s time to soften a couple of pints of ice cream. This simply means taking your ice cream out of the freezer and letting it vibe on the counter for 15-30 minutes. We don’t want the ice cream to melt completely, we just want it to be moldable. So aim for soft, not liquid.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. This will make it easier to remove the icebox cake when it is frozen solid. Make sure you leave a little excess wrap on the sides, so you have handles. Start by packing in about half of the matcha ice cream and then line it with some of the cookies. Top the cookies with the remaining matcha ice cream and add another layer of cookies. Pop the pan in the freezer and chill for 30 minutes. This chilling interlude will firm up the matcha layer so we will have a clean line differentiating the matcha from the pistachio layer. This is purely for aesthetics, so if you don’t care about the two flavors mixing, you can skip this chilling session.
Once the matcha layer has set up, add half of the pistachio. Once again add another layer of cookies. And finally, the rest of the pistachio ice cream. Now, this next chilling interlude is not optional. You have to leave your icebox cake in the freezer for a minimum of 8 hours to firm up. Why so long? Well, we are going to frost this beast, which takes a little time. So we want this cake to be as frozen solid as possible, so we have the time to slap the frosting on.
So let’s talk about the frosting. The frosting is sweetened matcha whipped cream. That’s it! And you don’t have to be super careful when applying it. We’re looking for a rustic look here. Once the cake is frosted, pop it back in the freezer and let it set up for another 30 minutes.
Finally, it’s time to decorate your Matcha Pistachio Icebox Cake. Now, I went with cape gooseberries and sage leaves because I adore green and orange together. But you could keep things very simple and finish with a dusting of matcha powder and still have a showstopper. If you are planning to place items on top of the cake, make sure you chill them before introducing them. And make sure you have extra matcha whipped cream to apply to the cake, so they have something to stick to. If you make the matcha whipped cream as directed below you should have more than enough left over. You will also have cookies left over but who in their right mind would complain about that?
So that’s everything you need to know about this Matcha Pistachio Icebox Cake. This is a showstopper of a frozen dessert that was made for the dog days of summer. Just don’t admire it in the heat for too long.
Matcha Pistachio Icebox Cake
- 1 Food Processor
- 1 Loaf pan
- 2 Large Baking Sheets
- 1 stand mixer or hand mixer
Matcha Pistachio Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted pistachios ** shelled
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp matcha powder
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Matcha Pistachio Icebox Cake
- 1 pint matcha ice cream softened
- 1 batch Pistachio Matcha Cookies see above
- 1 pint pistachio ice cream softened
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 1 tbsp matcha powder
- 1 pint cape gooseberries optional
- fresh sage leaves optional
For the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set them aside.
- Place the pistachios in a food processor and blitz until finely ground. Set the nuts aside.½ cup unsalted pistachios **
- In a large bowl whisk to combine the flour, matcha powder, baking powder, salt, and pistachios. Set the bowl aside.1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp matcha powder, ¾ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp kosher salt
- In a separate bowl place the butter and granulated sugar. Sift in the confectioners' sugar. Cream the sugars into the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg followed by the cream and vanilla extract.½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup confectioners' sugar, ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 3 tbsp heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet and beat until fully integrated. Repeat with the remaining half of the flour mixture.
- Using a teaspoon as a guide, divvy up the cookie dough. Roll each piece into a ball before flattening it into a disc. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until no dough remains.
- Transfer the cookies to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Take the cookies out of the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
For the Cake
- When the cookies are cool, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. Add half of the matcha ice cream to the loaf pan and smooth with the back of a spoon. Add a layer of the cookies, you should be able to fit 8-10 cookies. Top the cookies with the remaining matcha ice cream and add another layer of cookies. Transfer the loaf pan to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.1 pint matcha ice cream, 1 batch Pistachio Matcha Cookies
- After the 30 minutes have passed, take the loaf pan out of the freezer and add half of the pistachio ice cream, another layer of cookies, and the remaining pistachio ice cream. Cover the loaf pan and return it to the freezer. Let freeze for 8 hours.1 pint pistachio ice cream
- When you're ready to decorate the cake place the cream, matcha powder, and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream on high until stiff peaks form.1½ cups heavy cream, 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar, 1 tbsp matcha powder
- Take the matcha pistachio cake out of the loaf pan and invert it onto a plate. Frost the cake with most of the matcha whipped cream and return it to the freezer. Chill for 30 minutes.
- When ready to serve, add one final layer of the matcha whipped cream to the top of the cake. *** Arrange the gooseberries and sage leaves on top if using. Slice and serve the cake immediately.1 pint cape gooseberries, fresh sage leaves