Yikes! This sounds scary and intimidating! But, guess what? It’s really pretty straight forward. You will need to plan ahead so you have the ice cream and cake ready to go, and then you just whip up some meringue (literally!), cover the ice cream and toast the meringue. What could be easier? You can simplify by making a regular meringue, but we’re getting serious here with a Swiss meringue, in which the egg whites and sugar are gently heated to make a more stable end product. Either way, you can make this dish the way you like it – choose your favorite ice cream , sorbet or gelato – or frozen yogurt, tofutti or whatever else you can come up with that is sorta the same. You also get to choose your base – chocolate cake, vanilla cake, gingerbread, crushed cookies or brownies. Whatever you choose, it will be your invention, and guaranteed to impress!
2 quarts Ice Cream (or similar product); any flavor – or a combo
1 cake Single layer; any flavor you choose (or crushed cookies, shortbread…)
4 Large Egg Whites
1 C Granulated Sugar (caster sugar or fine sugar is best, but not powdered)
1 pinch Salt
2 teasp Vanilla (or other flavoring of your choice)
First Things First
Soften your ice cream just enough to be able to scoop it into a freezer proof bowl that will fit the 2 quarts. Lightly oil the bowl, and line with plastic wrap, leaving a good overhang – you’ll need to pull on it to release the ice cream later. You can layer the ice cream if you want, but if you do, soften each flavor and refreeze before making the next layer or you will have wobbly lines. Which is also fine. Cover tightly with plastic, pressing down to remove any air holes, and freeze solid for 2 to 4 hours.
Make a cake. Or buy one! You only need enough to fit the top of the bowl you prep your ice cream in. (We have recipes for 2 kinds of chocolate cake, a vanilla sponge (under the Trifle recipe) and a strawberry cake on our website and in our video library.)
The Swiss Meringue (make this right before serving)
Tip: when making meringue avoid even a speck of yolk or water in the bowl – it will make the meringue very hard to whip up.
You will be heating this double-boiler-style before mixing, so you want to fit the bowl of your stand mixer, or a stainless steel mixing bowl over boiling water. Find a pot that will work for this, using a wad of crumpled aluminum foil as a stand for the bowl if necessary. (The water should not quite reach the bottom of the bowl.)
Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl, and heat, whisking continually, until the whites are warm to the touch and the sugar and salt are dissolved. (Dip your finger in for temp and then rub finger and thumb together to make sure it’s not gritty.)
Move the bowl to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. (Or to the counter and use a hand mixer.) Whip on low speed until the whites become foamy, about 2 minutes or so, then gradually increase the speed and whip until the meringue is glossy, has slightly droopy stiff peaks, and the bowl is no longer warm to the touch.
Add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds to mix in.
Use the meringue immediately!
“Baking” the Alaska!
Remove the ice cream from the freezer and place the cake on top, trimming to fit. (If using cookie crumbs, leave a space at the top of the bowl and freeze these with the ice cream.)
Gently pull at the plastic wrap to loosen the ice cream, then invert the whole thing onto a large plate, remove the bowl and pull off the plastic. (If the ice cream is resisting, let it sit for a few minutes, or warm the bowl with your hands to loosen.)
Immediately spread or pipe the meringue all over the ice cream.
Using a kitchen torch, gently toast the meringue to a gold brown. (Alternately, you can use your oven’s broiler, but make sure you keep a close eye on it!)
Serve right away – to the delight of your guests. And congratulations on a job well done!