Zebra Cake

A Retro Dessert Earns Its Stripes

One of Mom’s dishes I hold dear is zebra cake—we didn’t call it that; it was more like a bunch of adjectives “chocolate-cookie-whipped-cream-log.” For others it was called “ice box cake, named back when there weren’t any refrigerators.

For us it was for very special occasions, like right now.

I finally spent time perfecting that memory—it will not disappoint. I always thought it too labor intensive, as we never saw her make zebra cake. Lawdy! It is so simple and a child-helper-worthy recipe.


  • chocolate wafers – 1 box, [9 oz]
  • heavy cream – 1 3/4 cups
  • confectioners sugar – 2 TBS
  • vanilla extract – 2 tsp

INSTRUCTIONS: There are two ways to serve: chilled, or frozen and partially thawed

  1. Add cold, heavy cream to a very clean mixing bowl and with a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer beat until stiff peaks form, a few minutes—you should be able to turn the bowl upside down and have it hold
  2. Fold in the sugar and vanilla
  3. Lay a wafer down and spoon a rounded teaspoon of cream on top; then lay another wafer atop and push down gently until the cream just squeezes out; repeat until you form about a 3-inch stack; then repeat with the remaining wafers [there should be some cream left]
  4. On a serving platter spoon 2 strips of cream down the center and form two “logs” spooning a tsp more cream between the joining stacks
  5. Refrigerate the remaining cream to be used for serving
  6. For a Refrigerator Cake: Spray some foil or plastic wrap and lay over the logs and seal; then refrigerate for 8 plus hours
  7. Freezer Style: mom froze individual logs wrapped in a sheet of foil [spray foil with oil]—no platter needed
  8. TO SERVE:
    • We always served topped with more whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and some cherry juice
    • Or coat the logs with remaining cream and sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds, nonpareil sprinkles, or grated chocolate
    • Before serving, move from the freezer to the fridge about 3 hours before serving. When serving, slice the logs on an angle to reveal the zebra stripes

The famous chocolate wafers were not to be found locally, so I improvised beautifully by using Oreo Thins cookies. I had to carefully cut them and one package was sufficient to make a recipe.

Bill Hettig 2022

One thought on “Zebra Cake

  1. In kindergarten my class sat at a round table and each of us took a turn whisking a bowl of heavy cream. I watched as it went from cream, then to whipped cream, and then to butter. It was one of those Eureka! moments I became enthralled with cooking


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