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A New Dish in My Kitchen: Da Bombe Alaska

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.

Choose your favourite ice cream


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.

 

Take the ice cream from the tub and place on a disc of pound cake

Take the ice cream from the tub and place on a disc of pound cake which you have carefully cut to be precisely the same size and shape as the base of the ice cream.


Slice the cake and cover the ice cream with the cake slice

Slice the cake and cover the outside of the ice cream with the cake slices. This is actually not as tricky as it looks. The cake sticks easily to the ice cream.

 

Cut the cake slices so they fit perfectly

Cut the cake slices so they fit almost perfectly, but no need to obsess.

It doesn't matter if it looks like a patchy patchwork...

It doesn’t matter if it looks like a patchy patchwork…

Wrap the cake-covered ice cream in glad wrap

Wrapped up nice and tight.

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.

When ready to serve, whisk the egg whites with sugar until thick and glossy. I used 3 egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar.

Almost-thick-and-glossy meringue.

Working quickly, schmear (technical term) the meringue over the cake

A meringue bombe

 

Using a very technical piece of cooking equipment (a plastic bag), pipe some of the meringue decoratively over the top.

Using a very technical piece of cooking equipment (a plastic bag), Jessie pipes some of the meringue decoratively over the top.

Using a knife, make some swirls around the outside. Yes, we need practice...

Yes, I need practice…

 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!

Place da bombe in a VERY hot oven for a few minutes until it starts to brown And watch carefully!

Please watch carefully!

Remove from the oven when the meringue is toasty brown...

It’s ready when the meringue is toasty brown…

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.

We pour a little Grand Marnier in a metal cup and light it, then pour it over da bombe...

We pour a little Grand Marnier in a metal cup and light it, then pour it over da bombe…see the flame?

 

You're going to have to trust me here...da bombe is alight. I guess this trick is more effective at night...

You’re going to have to trust me here…da bombe is alight. I guess this trick is more effective at night…but you can see the burnt meringue at the top!

 

TADA.Cut in half, it looks fantastic. And it tastes pretty good too...

TADA.
Cut in half, it looks fantastic. And it tastes pretty good too…

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

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16 Responses to A New Dish in My Kitchen: Da Bombe Alaska

  1. Nancie McDermott January 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Fantastic! I adore this adventure. Made me realize that I have a lifelong crush on fancy (to me) desserts: Baked Alaska, parfaits, cream puffs, and anything on fire. These were the sweets I saw in my mother’s Women’s Magazines in the 1960′s USA: (Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, McCalls). Never saw any of these in real life, as none had a place in traditional Southern food world. But now I’m grown, and I can just up and make them, like you did! Wonderful post. I’m thinking strawberry ice cream, chocolate cake….VALENTINE’S DAY! Thanks for permission/inspiration to Begin Anew!

    • Lisa Goldberg January 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

      Nancie, that is a WONDERFUL Valentine’s idea! Love it. And I agree with you on fancy desserts, they are such fun xx

  2. HapaMama January 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Looks spectacular! Store bought ice cream and cake? 1950s housewives would be proud. I seem to remember something like this in my childhood, but it was ice cream baked in an orange. Happy New Year!

    • Lisa Goldberg January 12, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      Ice cream baked in an orange? Wow, that might be my next big thing! And it’s actually quite liberating to use store bought cake AND ice cream…

  3. Rashda/Mina Khan (@SpiceBites) January 12, 2013 at 6:13 am #

    Lol, ice cream & oven really don’t seem to go together…but, the end result is gorgeous!

    • Lisa Goldberg January 12, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

      Yes, that’s exactly where my fear stems from…but I have now learnt that if you insulate the ice cream well, it is a marriage made in heaven :)

  4. Lucy January 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Wow! For something so easy, it sure is impressive! I love to make meringues, and it’s been awhile, so may have to do this as a family project. Terrific way to start 2013 with #LetsLunch!

    • Lisa Goldberg January 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      I know! So simple and really totally ‘wow’. Please have a go, I’d love to see your version -I’m sure it would be fabulous. x

  5. linda @spiceboxtravels January 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Truly da bomb! And you can never go wrong when you flambé :)

    • Lisa Goldberg January 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks Linda. It is my very first flambe and I can’t wait to practice it some more!

  6. Pat January 14, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    I’ve not had this before but the cake and ice cream combo reminds me of an arctic roll. Do/did you have that frozen dessert in Australia? I think it’s Walls? Anyway, I love how you improvised on this somewhat complex dessert and shortcuts are a-ok in my book!

  7. Annalisa March 1, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    Laughed several times, but completely in awe of you. Brave. Braver than I. Totally impressed… and entertained :)

    • Lisa Goldberg March 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi Annalisa – thanks so much for your lovely comment! Glad you’ve been emtertained and impressed. You should really give it a go, it’s SO simple. And then report back…x

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