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Mile-High Ice Cream Pie

The famous dessert at the Caribbean Room of the Pontchartrain Hotel was really very simple: three kinds of ice cream layered under a thick crown of meringue. Nobody notes that it’s an extravagant variation on baked Alaska. You do indeed bake it, ice cream and all. One slice is enough for two people–if they can finish it. The Caribbean Room made its own chocolate sauce, and that was a big part of the goodness of the dessert.

The trouble with making it the way the Pontchartrain did involves the bottom layer of ice cream. The flavor was peppermint, and you will not find that in many stores, if at all. However, my daughter has been making her own peppermint ice cream since she was a tweener, and hers is perfect for this. But there’s nothing stopping you from using store-bought ice-cream–a pint and a half to a quart of each flavor. Nor is there any reason to limit oneself to the Pontchartrain’s flavors. It’s really great using Angelo Brocato’s spumone.

I despise making pie crust, so I buy the kind that comes in sheets and fit it into a ten-inch pan, with enough overlap around the edges to hold the bottom layers in place.

Mile-high pie made at home. I should have taken the picture of the pie before it was served, instead of after. Duh.

  • 1 quart plus 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 6 standard peppermint candy canes
  • 1 quart chocolate ice cream
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 package pie crust
  • Chocolate sauce:
  • 12 oz. Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate squares
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/12 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Make the peppermint ice cream first. (In fact, it’s best to do this a day or two ahead of time.) Take the quart of vanilla ice cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften on the counter for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, put the candy canes into a food storage bag. On a plastic cutting board, pound the bag of candy a meat mallet until the canes are broken into tiny pieces.

2. Scoop about two-thirds of the softened vanilla ice cream into a bowl. Stir the crushed candy canes into the softened ice cream until well distributed. Cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl into the freezer.

3. When you’re ready to make the pie, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Clean the counter and dust with flour. Unroll the pie dough and lay it out on the counter. Place a nine-inch pie baking pan upside down on top of it, and cut a piece of dough in a circle an inch beyond the edge of the pan. (Use two sheets of pie dough if necessary.)

4. Grease the pie pan lightly. Push the pie dough into it. Squeeze pleats in the part that extends above the edge, so that it forms an upright collar above the pan. Sprinkle a half-cup of red beans or pie weights into the crust, and bake the crust in a 425-degree oven until light brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a half-hour.

5. When the crust is cool, remove all the ice creams from the freezer and let them soften a bit in their containers on the counter.

6. In the meantime, put the egg whites into a clean bowl. Make sure no yolk has gotten into the whites. Add the cream of tartar to the bowl.

7. Clean the beaters of your electric mixer to remove any fat that may be on them. Beat the egg whites with the bowl tipped a little, with the beaters right in the pool of liquid egg whites at the bottom. Beat until the foam forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and the vanilla and continue beating until the peaks get stiff.

Preheat the oven to broil at 425 degrees.

8. Remove the beans from the cool pie shell. Put the peppermint ice cream into the pie crust, and spread it out to a uniform layer with a rubber spatula. Next, layer in about three-fourths of the chocolate ice cream. (Save the rest for a guilty late-night snack.) Cover the chocolate ice cream with the vanilla ice cream. Finally, spoon the egg-white meringue over the top, forming a high dome of meringue, preferably with a lot of a little peaks.

9. Put the pie into the 425-degree oven on broil (top heat only). Broil for one or two minutes, until the meringue peaks are distinctly browned and the rest of the meringue lightly brown.

10. Immediately put the pie into the coldest part of the freezer, and leave it there for at least three hours, until all the ice cream has hardened.

11. To make the chocolate sauce, put all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl set on a pan of simmering water (or a double boiler). Stir constantly as soon as the chocolate starts to melt, and continue until the sauce is smooth.

12. To serve, remove the pie from the pan and place it on a flat plate or serving board. Heat a French chef’s knife with hot water, and cut the pie into six slices. Each slice will serve two people. Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the top and serve with salad forks and tablespoons.

Serves 6-12

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