This is one of my all-time favourite desserts. It requires a bit of preparation, but once the elements are done, it’s relatively straightforward to make and have ready in the freezer for whenever you need to wow your friends. The toasty meringue reminds me of marshmallows charred on the fire, and the cold ice cream complements it perfectly.
Preparation time: 1 hour, plus cooling, chilling and freezing
Cooking time: 1 hour
6 balls of Vanilla Ice Cream frozen hard
For the dulce de leche sponge:
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
30g golden syrup
1 (397ml) tin of dulce de leche (milk caramel)
100g self-raising flour
For the strawberry juice:
75ml strawberry liqueur (you can substitute another fruity liqueur, or rum)
15g caster sugar
For the Italian meringue:
225g caster sugar
90g egg whites
You will also need a sugar thermometer and a piping bag with a plain 10mm nozzle
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 30cm lipped baking tray and cover with baking paper.
To make the sponge, put the softened butter, golden syrup and dulce de leche (milk caramel) into a mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer, or a wooden spoon if doing by hand, cream together until lighter in colour – this should take about 5 minutes. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together.
Still creaming the butter mix, add the eggs, then mix together for another 2 minutes, or until completely smooth. Sift in the flour and mix for 1 more minute. Spoon your sponge mix on to the prepared baking tray and spread out until it is 1cm thick.
Bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack. Using a 10cm diameter cookie cutter, cut out 6 discs of sponge and set aside.
To make the strawberry juice, wash the strawberries, take the green tops off with a small knife, and cut them in half or quarters if large. Place in a metal bowl, add the liqueur and sugar, cover tightly with clingfilm and place over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, then turn off the heat. Once cooled a little, strain off and discard the pulp. Place the liquid in the fridge to chill.
To make the meringue, put the sugar into a small saucepan over a low heat and gently pour over the water. Make sure no sugar has come up the sides of the pan, as this will make the syrup crystallize.
Put the egg whites into a mixing bowl and, using an electric hand mixer, whisk on slow speed. Once the sugar has reached 116°C, increase the speed of whisking to create soft peaks. When the sugar has reached 121°C, pour it slowly on to the egg whites while still whisking on a high speed.
Once the sugar syrup has been added, continue to whisk until the meringue has cooled to room temperature, then put into a piping bag with a plain 10mm nozzle.
To finish, put the sponge discs on individual pieces of baking paper on a baking sheet and place a ball of ice cream on each sponge disc. Pipe the meringue all the way around, to completely cover. At this stage place in the freezer until you are ready to cook and serve.
When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Place the baking sheet on the bottom shelf for 3 minutes, or until the meringue is nice and browned.
Carefully transfer to serving bowls and pour the strawberry juice around.