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
    • If you freeze, take out at least an hour before serving so it partially thaws
    • We always served it topped with more whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and some juice
    • Or coat the logs with remaining cream and sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds, nonpareil sprinkles, or grated chocolate
  8. When serving, slice the logs on an angle to reveal the zebra stripes

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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