Ice Cream and summer are made for each other, partners skipping hand in hand down the path of warm weather delight. Soft or hard, plain or sundae, scooped or dipped, chocolate, vanilla, fruit, candy, or cookie dough – everyone has an ice cream favorite.
Just imagine creamy vanilla and pink peppermint-candy ice cream layered in a pie crust, topped with a skyscraper of meringue, mysteriously browned and drizzled with a web of hot fudge sauce. Not only did it taste good, it was spectacular to look at – an architectural tour de force getting wows and smiles from anyone lucky enough to have a slice.
I was thinking about this lately as my granddaughter expressed her undying affection for ice cream. Picky about her dinner and choosy of her snacks, she’ll never turn down ice cream. Could I arrange for her to enjoy this unique treat from my past?
Turns out it’s not that hard!
Although it takes a little time and planning for the multiple steps, the actual work isn’t that difficult and gets easier with practice.
Step one – the pie shells: Frozen pie shells are just fine. Bake them according to the directions for pre-baked pie shells and cool completely.
Step two – the ice cream: Two flavors in contrasting colors are best; vanilla and strawberry or vanilla and chocolate are obvious choices, or try the vanilla and pink peppermint of my memories. Quality counts here. Forget low fat and sugar free. Get the good stuff.
Bring the flavor for the bottom layer to a scoopable temperature. Spoon off sheets of ice cream, around an inch thick, and pack them in the pie shell. Try not to have too many gaps, but don’t press so hard that the pastry cracks. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard. Repeat the process for the next layer so that the pie crust is full to the top. For the best look, have a colored ice cream on the top layer for contrast with the meringue.
Step three – the meringue topping: The thought of making meringue can be intimidating, but it’s really quite easy. For my pie, I used a simple, old-time Betty Crocker recipe that calls for beating egg whites with a little cream of tartar and adding sugar. So
easy, in fact, that my almost 6 year old granddaughter, to her delight, was in charge of gradually spooning in the sugar (and eating up any spills.) Visit franksfeast.com for the recipe. You can also make an Italian meringue with sugar syrup, which is more complicated, but more durable. Betty’s recipe worked just fine for me.
With the meringue whipped up, it’s a pretty simple matter to pile it on to the ice cream filled pie shell. Trowel it out into a tall mountain and finish by tapping it with your spreader to raise some spiky peaks. They’re beautiful when they brown. Put it back in the freezer for a while to get everything good and cold.
Step Four – the browning: While you’re making the meringue, preheat the oven to 500°. When the pie has rested, put it in the oven on a sheet pan for 2 minutes. Check to see if it has browned; if not give another minute. We’re just trying to give a touch of brown to those spiky peaks, not darken the whole thing. Put it back in the freezer until you’re ready to serve.
A little sauce drizzled around the top and on the plate makes a restaurant quality presentation. I offered a choice of caramel sauce (recipe at franksfeast.com) or hot fudge.
To serve the pie, take the whole pie out of the pan. Be careful not to break the pastry, but it’s a big frozen block at this point and pretty sturdy. With a long stiff knife, cut the pie in half. Rinsing the knife in hot water will warm it up and make it a little easier to cut through the ice cream. Then cut the half pie into four, five or six pieces depending on the appetite of your gang. Put a dab of sauce on the plate under the pie to keep it from sliding around and drizzle the pie with more sauce.
You’ll bask in the wows. Everyone will be amazed by the pie and impressed with your culinary achievement. No need to tell them how easy it was!