I spent nearly twenty years casually evolving this dessert which is better than any I have ever tasted in home or restaurant. I've tried all different flavors and grades of ice cream, however, a good, but not premo grade of vanilla ice cream produces the best effect.
|Dried meringue (see Meringue recipe)|
|Fresh meringue (see Meringue recipe)|
|Vanilla ice cream, in half-gallon carton, frozen solid|
|Genoise (sponge cake) or angel food cake|
1. Cut a slab of cake about ¼ to ½ inches thick to match the dimensions of the long side of the ice cream cartonnot the end or the large, broad top or bottom side, but the one roughly the same dimensions of the bottom of a standard bread loaf pan. The cake serves as insulation against melting plus provides a sponge to hold flavoring such as a liqueur or other. (I don't flavor mine.)
2. Peel open the carton of ice cream completely.
3. Using a strong, sharp knife, cut the ice cream into rectangular slabs to match the sponge cake insulator. This step and step 4 must be done as quickly as possible to avoid degrading the ice cream.
4. Sprinkle dried meringue dust on the ice cream slab. Repeat step 3 and this step as many times as you care. The thinner the slabs and the greater their number, the finer the result.
5. Wrap the assembly completely in plastic wrap and refreeze. This can be done up to 2 or 3 days in advance, but the freezer must be cold enough to prevent degradation of the ice cream or its deformation.
6. Make 3 eggs-worth of meringue. Pipe the meringue onto the prepared assembly using a fancy tip. Cover the assembly completely, make any decorations. Decorations can also be made in firmer meringue that has been pre-baked (or dried). This must all be done rapidly to avoid the ice cream melting. After this step, the assembly could be placed back in the freezer for an hour or two, especially if the freezer is seriously cold. If not left too long, there is no need to cover it (in fact, that would ruin the meringue piping).
7. Bake in a very hot oven, near the broiler or torch the dessert just before serving. For years I tried to get a good result in an oven. I finally broke down and purchased a small butane torch I use only in the kitchen. By waving the torch over the piped meringue, a pleasing color and textured effect can be achieved.
If a flambée is desired, heat the liqueur to be used in a small pan before lighting and pouring over the dessert. I tried this once; the effect isn't nearly as interesting as it sounds and it's just one more useless step at the end of what has already probably been a great deal of trouble to produce a fine meal.