Pontchartrain Mile-High Ice Cream Pie Recipe

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An ice cream pie with a huge meringue topping, served with a chocolate sauce. Originally a featured desert of the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans.

 
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Ingredients

  • For Christmas Eve dinner, our family tradition for the past 13 years has been to spend this evening with our dear friends and neighbors at their home. When our families are together, we number 12 people and our hostess does this up in a classic Christmas tableau—replete with sparkling decorations, individual place card ornaments, candlelight, an original prayer offered by the family matriarch—and a lavish menu commencing with caviar, smoked salmon and pate, moving to beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce, potatoes dauphinoise, vegetables jardinière, and punctuated by dessert. While our hosts bear the lion’s share of the burden, we all contribute something to this lavish and always delectable meal. My part is the potatoes and the dessert, the latter is the subject of today’s post.
  • For this year’s dessert, we opted for an ice cream dish. We wanted something festive and celebratory to conclude our meal and precede our annual game of charades. (Did you know that there is now an iPhone application for charades clues?)
  • My husband grew up in New Orleans and when he was a boy, he and his family would frequently eat at the Pontchartrain Hotel. In today’s parlance, we’d call this a boutique hotel--when he was little, it was just a very nice “small” hotel. It boasted two restaurants —a very nice, fine dining restaurant, and a much more casual diner. But the great thing was, the menu was the same at both restaurants—and so, they ate there often, enjoying the classic New Orleans cuisine. When I came across this recipe in one of Maida Heatter’s collections, I showed it to my husband who immediately remembered it and pronounced it perfect for the occasion. It was, and so we share this with you with best wishes for a Happy New Year.
  • Pontchartrain Mile-High Ice Cream Pie
  • Ingredients:
  • For the Crust:
  • 9-inch pie shell (make your own or use a prepared crust, either is fine)
  • For the Filling:DSC_0003
  • 3 pints ice cream, (I used Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate and Cookies and Cream, but you can choose your favorites)
  • For the Meringue:
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups egg whites
  • 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the Sauce:DSC_0004
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces (2 4-ounce bars) Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, broken up
  • 2 ounces (2 square) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Preparation:
  • Bake the pie crust according to recipe or package instructions and cool completely.
  • Soften one of the pints of the ice cream, and when it is soft, spread it in the pie shell, and freeze until it is firm enough to add another layer (in my freezer, this took about an hour in between layers). Soften and spread the other two pints the same way and then freeze the whole thing solid (I did this overnight to be sure it was really firm).
  • Place an oven rack on the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Be sure the next rack up is way up—this pie will be at least 5 or 6 inches high. Make room in the freezer.
  • In a large bowl, add the salt to the egg whites and beat at high speed in your mixer or with a hand beater until they are foamy. Add the lemon juice and beat only until the whites hold a soft shape. Reduce the speed to medium and beat, adding the sugar about a tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat for about 10 to 15 seconds in between additions. When all the sugar is added, increase the speed to high again, add the vanilla, and beat for 4 or 5 minutes more—until the meringue is very stiff.
  • Take the frozen pie from the freezer. Working quickly, transfer all of the meringue onto the top of the ice cream. Using a metal or rubber spatula, shape the meringue into a dome, making sure to touch the pie shell all around. Immediately place the pie in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The meringue will turn a golden brown and the tips will likely be a very dark brown. Immediately take the pie from the oven and put it into the freezer. Freeze it for at least 2 hours—and up to a day, but if you go a day, the meringue will get a little smaller as time goes by. It will still taste great, though, so if you need to make this ahead, you can.
  • To make the sauce, put the cream into an 8 cup heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally as it comes to a simmer, but don’t boil it. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to low; add the chocolates and stir until they are melted. Whisk the mixture with a wire whisk until it is perfectly smooth. You can either serve the pie now, or cool the sauce (covered) and reheat it very gently over low heat once you’re ready. If you think the sauce is too thick, just thin it with a little bit of additional cream.
  • To serve, run the blade of a large, sharp knife under hot running water. Cut the portions and lay them down on large dessert plates. Drizzle a spoon or two of the chocolate sauce over each portion.

Directions

  1. Bake the pie crust according to recipe or package instructions and cool completely.
  2. Soften one of the pints of the ice cream, and when it is soft, spread it in the pie shell, and freeze until it is firm enough to add another layer (in my freezer, this took about an hour in between layers). Soften and spread the other two pints the same way and then freeze the whole thing solid (I did this overnight to be sure it was really firm).
  3. Place an oven rack on the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Be sure the next rack up is way up—this pie will be at least 5 or 6 inches high. Make room in the freezer.
  4. In a large bowl, add the salt to the egg whites and beat at high speed in your mixer or with a hand beater until they are foamy. Add the lemon juice and beat only until the whites hold a soft shape. Reduce the speed to medium and beat, adding the sugar about a tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat for about 10 to 15 seconds in between additions. When all the sugar is added, increase the speed to high again, add the vanilla, and beat for 4 or 5 minutes more—until the meringue is very stiff.
  5. Take the frozen pie from the freezer. Working quickly, transfer all of the meringue onto the top of the ice cream. Using a metal or rubber spatula, shape the meringue into a dome, making sure to touch the pie shell all around. Immediately place the pie in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The meringue will turn a golden brown and the tips will likely be a very dark brown. Immediately take the pie from the oven and put it into the freezer. Freeze it for at least 2 hours—and up to a day, but if you go a day, the meringue will get a little smaller as time goes by. It will still taste great, though, so if you need to make this ahead, you can.
  6. To make the sauce, put the cream into an 8 cup heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally as it comes to a simmer, but don’t boil it. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to low; add the chocolates and stir until they are melted. Whisk the mixture with a wire whisk until it is perfectly smooth. You can either serve the pie now, or cool the sauce (covered) and reheat it very gently over low heat once you’re ready. If you think the sauce is too thick, just thin it with a little bit of additional cream.
  7. To serve, run the blade of a large, sharp knife under hot running water. Cut the portions and lay them down on large dessert plates. Drizzle a spoon or two of the chocolate sauce over each portion.

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