If you're not familiar, Maria cookies are a bit like round, less sweet graham crackers. When I saw them, I immediately thought about spicing up an icebox cake. Since Maria cookies are a traditional Mexican treat, I focused on bringing my favorite Mexican hot chocolate flavors into this cake. So many different companies have Aztec or Mayan chocolate bars, which typically feature a dash of cinnamon and a lingering hint of spice.
So off I went to combine some of my favorite flavors with savory spices. This "cake" is a simple combination of Maria cookies tucked into layers of nutella custard. Other than some vigorous stirring to prevent the eggs from scrambling, this is a no-fuss combination that yields an impressive-looking, refreshing dessert. It was so easy that when I finished making the custard, the small ones helped me assemble the dessert. It won't heat up your kitchen and is served cool, which is a nice change of pace. I served mine cut into squares, but whipped cream would be another great option.
No-Bake Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Box Cake Recipe
1 package Maria cookies 2/3 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
6 1/2 oz Nutella
2 Tablespoons coffee
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Start by lining an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. Place a single layer of the cookies in the bottom of the pan. Combine the milk, heavy cream and half the sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat that until the milk just starts to boil, then remove from the heat.
Beat together the egg yolks and remaining sugar. Temper the eggs (so they don't scramble from the heat) by adding a spoon or two of the hot milk mixture to the eggs, then whisking vigorously to combine. Do this twice, then pour the entire egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk.
Return to the heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Allow it to boil for a 15 seconds, which will cause the mixture to thicken to a pudding consistency.
Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Allow to cool to room temp.
To assemble, simply add tablespoons of the pudding on top of each cookie and smooth into a layer. Repeat the cookie and pudding layering until you're out of cookies. Refrigerate for at least three hours to allow the cake to come together, then cut with a sharp knife before serving. Enjoy!