No-Bake Icebox Whipped Cream Zebra Mocha Cake: Cool, Quick, No-Need-for-heat Summer Indulgence

Have you ever heard of zebra pie?  I am not sure what the name is for this fantastic fast dessert.  A close friend of mine, MHS, always referred to it as such back in university days.  MHS loved her mocha desserts, so I thought of the variation in today’s post while recalling her appreciation for cookies and coffee.  While MHS – who is very smart and knowledgeable about desserts – called it “zebra pie”, I really think it more appropriately falls into the icebox-cake category.  So I have renamed it.

At its most basic, there are just two ingredients:  store-bought chocolate wafers (for an unpaid plug, Mr. Christie in Canada or Nabisco in the US) and either non-dairy whipped topping – to which I say, “No, thank you” – or whipped cream – yes, please!   Usually, I whip heavy cream with vanilla extract and a bit of sugar.  However, I had just read about a mocha-whipped cream topping a molten chocolate cake in a recipe somewhere lately (who can recall? – so many blogs, so many cookbooks, so little time).

The “zebra” comes from the vertical stripes of the cake.  I guess one should not really have a tan-coloured whipped cream for a true zebra, but this cake is so delectable that one can overlook the zebra-who-has-been-running-around-grazing-on-the-dust-on-the-veldt look from the coffee-infused whipped cream.

Sometimes I have no idea what these cats are up to....

A fawn and doe are the attraction.

About as close to a zebra as one can get on this island....

So much for observing the zebra- substitute (Jinja's dirty paws almost make her a mocha zebra).

Besides some old horses on the island, the closest to a zebra around here is a young spotted fawn wandering around our property.  George and Jinja seemed to be monitoring it for suspicious behaviour, so I had to include the GKPs (“gratuitous kitty pictures”) in this post.

For the simple directions and the recipe…

Towers of frosted cookies await assembly into a cake.

Back to the zebra cake itself.  It is assembled, easily, by spreading whipped cream on the cookies, stacking them in mini-towers, and then placing them on the side.  The whipped cream acts as a glue and a frosting, and, after three hours or so in the fridge (but don’t you love using the old-fashioned “icebox” for desserts like this?), it is ready. The cookies meld into the whipped cream, taking on a true cake-like consistency.   I have served this at dinner party where my guests refused to believe that it was as simple as I describe.  It… is…really…that…simple.

I often flavour the whipped cream with a liquor, e.g., the Danish Cherry Heering (my grandmother Jessie loved her liquors, but I could never understand the combination of cherries with herring as a child, until perplexed Danish friends clarified its lack of fish, years later…)  By any name, it is the simplest and most satisfying of summer treats.

Mocha Zebra Icebox Cake, adapted from my recollections of MHS’s recipe, which was on a cookie  box

Serves six


  • One package of chocolate wafer cookies
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons instant espresso powder (other instant coffee granules will do but you will not get the same kick)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans for garnish, optional
  • Raspberries for garnish, optional


  1. Whip cream in a stand mixer (or use a hand-mixer or the old-fashioned-balloon-whisk-with-elbow-grease method), with sugar and espresso powder, until soft peaks form.
  2. With a small offset spatula — or other favourite tool of your choosing — spread whipped cream on top of one cookie (the rounded side).  Place cookie on work surface, with flat unfrosted side down.
  3. Repeat spreading whipping cream on another cookie then place on top of the whipped cream of the first cookie.
  4. Continue until a “tower” of five or six cookies is complete.
  5. Once all cookies are frosted, assemble towers by rotating towers on their sides, on the rounded edges, into a log, by putting two towers together first.  Add remaining towers and carefully press together.
  6. Frost rest of zebra cake log with remaining whipped cream.
  7. Refrigerate for at least three hours (even eight or nine will work) – if you are in a hurry, you can freeze the zebra cake and eat it within two hours.
  8. Cut on a bias (diagonal) in order to achieve the true zebra effect.
  9. Garnish with raspberries, chocolate-covered espresso beans, or your favourite zebra-appropriate items.

22 responses to “No-Bake Icebox Whipped Cream Zebra Mocha Cake: Cool, Quick, No-Need-for-heat Summer Indulgence

  1. I literally had to re-read this recipe three times because I didn’t believe that such a fantastic looking dessert could be so darn tootin’ easy. I know what I’m making for my next dinner party – minimal effort, maximum impressive quality! Looks gorgeous, Dan my man.

    Jax x

    • Thank you for your praise, Jax! I don’t know the equivalent cookie in There-Will-Always-Be-A-Jolly-Old-You-Know-Where, but I bet there is something you can use in the “biscuit” realm at Tesco, Sainsbury, or??

      Keep quiet and ask your guests what they think before revealing your secret!


  2. I’ve never heard of a zebra pie. That’s definitely new to me. And you just reminded me that I haven’t had fresh raspberries for almost a decade now. They’re usually out of season during my home visits.

    Sounds like a pristine island if you have fawns roaming outside your house.

    • Thanks for reminding me of how special fresh raspberries are, KM. I remember in Vanuatu they had something they called “raspberries”. However, they were bigger, less acidic, and less flavourful – and usually tropical fruit is so much more intense….

      We have deer, raccoons, and otters on the ground, and overhead: eagles, ravens, and the occasional owl overhead (one freaked out the cats last night, calling outside the window). The seals and orcas swim around the waters, too – yes, rather pristine!



  3. Looks delicious and super easy! Thanks for the recipe and instructions.

  4. My mother used to make that cake when we were kids and I absolutely loved it. The cookies take on such a “cakey” texture that it’s hard to believe that it’s that easy. Thanks for the memories, Dan.

    • Hi, Lynn. You’re welcome and thank you for your comment and telling me about your childhood recollection. So my questions to you are 1. what did your mother call the dessert and 2. what did she use, whipped cream or that other stuff we won’t mention by name? Dan

  5. OMGosh! My mom often made this for a company dessert and it was so good! Her version was even simpler than yours, though. She made a log of the chocolate wafers with whipped cream in between and covering all of the outside surface area. Then she’d refrigerate it and slice it diagonally to serve. It always was impressive and delicious.

    • Hi, Kath. Thanks so much for your comment. Your mother’s recipe is pretty much mine (I just added espresso powder and tried to spell it out more clearly). BTW, what did she call it? I’m trying to find out other names for this super – and super simple dessert. Dan

  6. Boy, Dan, I don’t recall what she called it. Good question. It’s a great retro dessert, though, that would be appreciated now as much as it was then.

  7. Well, my air conditioner seems to be acting up, and so a no-cook dessert is starting to sound quite attractive! Love the gratuitous kitty pictures, too…if those cuties are anything like my cat, they’ll be stalking the whipped topping on this cake as much as they’re stalking that fawn. 🙂

    • Thanks, Maddie. I figured this dessert is for everyone else who is sweltering (we are not here). The cats go for the whipped cream much more than their interest in the deer – I just don’t think they know what to make of deer…too big to eat yet too nonthreatening to avoid. Dan

  8. Just a correction to my previous post: Mom put it in the freezer, not in the refrigerator.

    • Thanks, Kath. I find either chilling method works, though the freezer method could allow you to prepare the dessert a few days in advance. Dan

  9. I can’t help but comment on the animals in stead of the cake! cute cats and I wish I had wild animals running around the vicinity!

  10. Wow, I think I stole your deer photo idea. Didn’t even realize I was being a thief.

  11. Pingback: No-Bake Icebox Whipped Cream Zebra Mocha Cake: Cool, Quick, No … | Compar Index

  12. I talked to my mother the other day and she said that she just called it “Chocolate Roll” and she never used anything but fresh whipped cream.

    • Thanks, Lynn. Now I know that it’s a Chocolate Roll, in your books, at least. I’m glad you followed up on this all-important question! Dan

  13. I”m 3 years too late but after a conversation with a colleague of mine about childhood favourite birthday cakes and we surprised each other with
    chocolate log (!) I just had to google. My SIL just made this for my nephew’s 21st birthday cake yesterday. Love it

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