Start your summer off with these sweet treats from Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, authors of "The Ultimate Frozen Dessert Book."
• Frozen Bombe
A classic bombe is a dome-shaped frozen dessert made with layered gelato, ice cream, or sherbet.
1 quart chocolate gelato, or purchased chocolate ice cream
1 pint vanilla gelato, or purchased vanilla ice cream
1 pint raspberry sherbet, or purchased raspberry sherbet
6 slices purchased angel food or sponge cake
Line a 2-quart round bowl with plastic wrap, allowing enough excess to hang over the sides. This was it can later be folded over the top to seal the bombe in the freezer. Set aside.
Place the chocolate gelato or ice cream in a large bowl and soften it by gently mashing it with the back of a wooden spoon. Spread with a rubber spatula into the prepared bowl in an even layer, taking care not to mess up the plastic wrap but making an upside-down dome that extends to 1/2 inch below the bowl's rim. Set in the freezer for 1 hour.
Soften the vanilla gelato or ice cream as in step 2, spread it into the bowl, covering up the chocolate gelato or ice cream and creating a second, fairly thin, concave layer, again almost up to the bowl's rim. Return to the freezer for 1 hour.
Soften the raspberry sherbet as in step 2, and fill the center "hole" of the bombe with it.
Cover the top with angel food or sponge cake, cutting some slices so that you can make an even layer across the bombe. (This will later be your base when you turn it upside down.) Pull the plastic wrap up and over the top, sealing the bombe in the bowl. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight. The bombe can be stored this way for up to two weeks.
To serve, peel back the plastic wrap, revealing the layer of cake. Turn the bowl upside-down on a cutting board or serving platter. Dampen several paper towels with hot water, wring them dry, and wipe the bowl to soften the bombe a little. Rock the bowl back and forth, holding the plastic wrap against the cutting board or serving platter, until the bowl comes loose. Remove it and all plastic wrap. Let the bombe stand for 5 minutes at room temperature, then slice in wedges and serve.
Turn a Bombe into a Baked Alaska
You will need a candy thermometer, which is designed to withstand the high heat of sugar syrups and comes not only with degree gradations, but with various markings to indicate the stages of sugar crystallization (soft ball, firm ball, hard ball, etc.). You can find candy thermometers at baking supply stores and most kitchenware stores:
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of water
Position a rack in the center of the over, and preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl, and set aside while you prepare the sugar syrup.
Stir the remaining sugar (14 tablespoons sugar) and the water in a small saucepan set over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, bring the mixture to a boil, and continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit, or firm-ball stage.
Meanwhile, beat the egg-white mixture with an electric mixer at high speed until shiny and stiff.
When the sugar syrup reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit, slowly drizzle it into the egg white mixture, beating all the while at a low speed. Be careful of splatters — it's very hot. Beat until all the syrup has been added, and then continue beating until cool, 5 to 7 minutes.
Un-mold the bombe as directed on page 188, but this time onto a baking sheet. Spread the meringue over it with a rubber spatula, coating the whole thing down to cake layer; seal the meringue against the cake, gently pressing against the cake with a rubber spatula. Make little curlicues of the meringue all over the bombe, as with a meringue pie.
Bake for about 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Immediately remove the bombe from the baking sheet, transferring it to a serving platter with one or two large metal spatulas. Slice at once and serve.
• Frozen Grasshopper Pie
This classic combination of creme de menthe and chocolate may have gotten its start as a cocktail, but it was turned into a pie through a clever Knox gelatin campaign in the late 1950s. Our frozen version uses two luscious layers — one mint, the other chocolate — and stacks them in the classic chocolate-cookie crust.
20 chocolate sandwiches
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (18 table spoons) sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 whole milk
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crumble the cookies into a large food processor fitted with the chopping blade, add the 2 tablespoons sugar, pulse a few times, then process until finely ground. With the machine running, pour the melted butter through the feed tube; continue processing until the mixture just starts to cohere into a mass. Turn off the machine, and pour the chocolate-crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate until the mixture is even with the rim. Do not press down hard— the point is to make an even crust, not paving stones. Place in the freezer while you make the filling.
Place 1/3 cup of the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Set aside to soften for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes; set aside too. Fill a very large bowl with ice water and set it aside as well. (If you have a double sink, you can create this water bath in one half of it.)
Heat the remaining 1/3 cup milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles pop up along the pan's inner edge. Do not allow the milk to come to a simmer. Stir in the gelatin mixture, remove the pan from the heat, and continue stirring until the gelatin has dissolved.
Whisk about half this warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, then whisk this combined mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the pan. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 1 minute. Do not allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Stir in the creme de menthe and green food coloring, if using, until uniform. Nestle the bowl with the mint custard into the prepared ice-water bath. Stir with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom almost constantly, until thickened and somewhat gelatinous, about 3 minutes. Remove from the bath and set aside.
Whip the cream into a medium bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until doubled in volume, but still soft and wet. Fold the whipped cream into the mint custard and then pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Place in the freezer and chill while you make the chocolate layer.
Bring about 2 inches water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over high heat; reduce the heat so the water simmers gently.
Thoroughly clean and dry your mixer's beaters. Place the egg whites and salt in a clean dry medium bowl that will fit securely over the pan with the simmering water. Beat away from the heat at medium speed until foamy, then add the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cream of tartar, place the bowl over the pan, and beat at medium speed until thick, smooth, and satiny, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary with a clean rubber spatula, about 3 minutes. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla, then remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating at medium speed until room temperature, about 1 minute.
Spoon this chocolate mixture over the mint layer of the pie and return to the freezer to chill, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once the pie's set, cover it with plastic wrap; it can be stored this way for up to 2 weeks. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and slice into wedges.
Frozen Brandy Alexander Pie
Substitute 1/4 cup brandy for the creme de menthe. Omit the green food coloring. Add 2 tablespoons sugar to the egg yolks.