Overcoming My Fear of Putting Ice Cream in the Oven
What dish freaks you out? You know, the one that you’ve always wanted to try but have just been too afraid to actually do it. My list used to be really long. Whole fish, fish generally, whole chickens, whole anything really, chiffon cakes, puff pastry, just to name a few. I have braved them all. Not exactly mastered, but braved. Tick. I have a shorter list these days and I am still afraid. These dishes are insurmountable. Perfect choux buns, Yorkshire pudding, buttery shortbread biscuits, home made filo pastry and a bombe Alaska. With the bombe Alaska, my fear (among other things) is really how on earth the meringue browns without allowing the ice cream to melt. I also want da bombe to be da bomb. My kids tell me that means REALLY good. I am going to attempt a bombe Alaska.
It’s #LetsLunch time (the virtual monthly twitter inspired lunch date) – the first for the new year – and the theme is ‘new beginnings’. Translated into cooking lingo, I think this means trying out a dish we haven’t tried before. It’s also our youngest boy Jake’s 16th birthday this week, and we are in the middle of our summer vacation at the beach. In the context of this post, ‘at the beach’ is a euphemism for ‘ in a strange kitchen without any fancy cooking equipment’.
I am only telling you the last bit so I can rationalise why I am making this dish using every shortcut known to man.
I start all of this the day before the birthday. I want da bombe to be frozen solid before I ‘cook’ it.
Step 1: Ice Cream. Sure, we can all make ice cream (clears throat) but in the middle of a summer holiday I just can’t be bothered. And I don’t think Mr. !6 will care. In fact, I think he would prefer store-bough ‘cookies and cream’ to anything I could make. Unless it is chopped up maltesers in Blue Ribbon Vanilla but the melting and refreezing is just too complicated today. So I choose the ice cream based on a. the flavour and b. the shape of the tub. The shape of the tub is going to be the shape of da bombe.
Step 2: Cake. Yes I can hear you all thinking out loud ‘she’s NOT going to BUY cake, is she?’. I am indeed. I buy supermarket sponge. It will be a better bombe with a good quality butter or pound cake, but I actually want to see how it goes with plain ordinary every day cake.
Step 3: Meringue. I decide on 3 egg whites to 1/3 cup sugar. I am skipping the suggested cream of tartar and vanilla because I am on holidays. I think this might be a mistake.
Step 4: Assembly. The idea is to clad the ice cream in cake, and to do it quickly so the ice cream does not melt. I learn quickly that ice cream melts equally quickly when it is hot outside (and therefore hotter inside) so I have to work so fast. The pressure is on. When done, wrap the entire cake-covered ice cream in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. Fast.
Step 5: On the day of serving and at the time I need it, I make the meringue. I whisk the whites until stiff and then slowly add the sugar and beat until glossy and super stiff. It is not as glossy nor super stiff as I hope, maybe because I failed to add the cream of tartar? They will have to do.
Step 6: I take da bombe out of the freezer and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet. I schmear (technical term) the meringue all over the cake, and then use a butter knife to make waves and troughs in the meringue (I am still learning). I coerce daughter Jessie to do the piping (at least I could blame her if it didn’t work) and she (quite expertly) pipes little mounds on the top using the ever faithful snap lock bag with a corner snipped off.
Step 7: I put da bombe in a very hot oven (425F/215 C) and bake for 4 minutes or so, until the meringue is toasty brown. I force myself to stand next to the oven the entire 4 minutes!
Step 8: Despite the fact that it is hot outside, I want to flame it. It will have to be done inside as it is a total fire ban today. I grab the Grand Marnier and pour a couple of spoons worth into a metal cup with a handle. I light it with a match and, with great trepidation, I pour it over da bombe. I want to see the whole thing flaming but am scared I’ll cause a bushfire (yes, from my kitchen) so we go slowly and all we get is a little flame at the top which really just burns the meringue.
I am proud. I do think da bombe is da bomb, and I have overcome my fear of cooking ice cream. It actually doesn’t melt! It’s a miracle. It is quite delicious and everybody is happy. My next bombe might be better – gourmet ice cream, home made butter cake and glossy meringue – but nothing will erase the memory of our first Bombe Alaska.
Let’s Lunch (#LetsLunch) is a twitter-based virtual lunch club where anyone interested can join this monthly ‘lunch date’. A topic is posted at the beginning of the month, everyone now takes it in turns, and all posts are made on the same day by this random but lovely group of food bloggers, writers and people who just love cooking from all around the worldAnyone can join at any time – just join us on twitter by searching and adding the hashtag #LetsLunch. Check back in a couple of days for a list of everyone’s #letslunch post right here:
Lisa’s Da Bombe Alaska at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Grace’s Matcha Green Tea Yogurt at Hapa Mama
Jill’s Heavenly Angel Cake at Eating My Words
Lucy’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies at A Cook and Her Books
Linda‘s Trinidadian Black-eyed Peas at Spicebox Travels
Nancie’s Vietnamese-style Chicken with Lemongrass at NancieMcDermott
Rashda’s Parathas at Hot Curries and Cold Beer
Sonja’s Beetroot and Fetta Varenyky at Foodnutzz
Pat’s Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls at The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook