Moka Dupont: A French Icebox Cake

Moka Dupont: A French Icebox Cake

When my Paris friend, Bernard Collet, told me about this cake, a favorite for over 60 years in his family, I was expecting something tall, soft, frosted and fit for candles. I expected a gâteau but got an icebox cake: four layers of cookies held together with four layers of frosting. The cake, originally a back-of-the-box recipe, was created for a French tea biscuit called Thé Brun, but I could never find them, so I used Petit Beurre cookies. Lately I can’t find them either, so I use old-fashioned Nabisco Social Teas. You can use whatever cookies you’d like, but they should be plain, flat, square or rectangular. Depending on the size of your cookies, you might need fewer of them; depending on how big or small you make the cake, you might need to juggle the number of layers or the amount of frosting. It’s a recipe made for improvisation.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 8 persons



  1. Step 1

    Before you start assembling the cake, decide on the size you want. I make a cake that’s 4 cookies wide, 4 cookies long and 4 layers high. Choose a plate to build and serve the cake.
  2. Step 2

    Make the buttercream frosting: Put the butter in a small bowl, and beat it with a flexible spatula until smooth. Add 1/2 cup sugar, and beat again with the spatula until it’s thoroughly incorporated. Separate the egg, putting the yolk in a cup and the white in a small bowl. Whip the white until it holds soft peaks using a mixer or, for a short but strenuous exercise, a whisk. Give the yolk a quick whisk, just to break it up, then stir it into the white.
  3. Step 3

    Add the egg to the bowl with the butter, and using the spatula, stir and fold until blended. Scrape in the melted chocolate, then stir and fold again until the frosting is homogeneous. (It won’t be perfectly smooth.) Taste the buttercream, and you’ll feel grains of sugar on your tongue — that’s the way it’s meant to be.
  4. Step 4

    Pour the hot espresso into a wide, shallow bowl, and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
  5. Step 5

    One by one, drop each cookie into the espresso, count 3 seconds, flip it over, count 3 seconds more, then place the espresso-soaked cookie on the serving plate. Continue until you have your first layer of cookies in place.
  6. Step 6

    Using a small offset spatula or a table knife, spread a quarter of the buttercream over the cookies, working the cream to the edges of the cookies. Build 3 more layers of dunked cookies and smoothed buttercream. Top the last layer of buttercream with grated chocolate.
  7. Step 7

    Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is set, at least 3 hours. The cake can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Once the frosting is set, the cake could also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. To serve, simply let it defrost, still wrapped, in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or at room temperature for about 1 hour.)