If you put ice cream in the oven it will melt. Nobody is arguing that. But if you put a special ice cream base into a hot oven briefly, then in the freezer, you get a fluffy baked cake exterior and an ice cream interior! The inspiration for this one-of-a-kind dessert came from noticing the similarities between a type of no churn, Italian ice cream called semifreddo and a baked souffle. Semifreddo is similar to my Easy Ice Cream, with beaten egg whites joining the whipped cream and flavor base which is then frozen. Souffle is a flavor base combined with whipped egg whites, then baked.
During development I learned that whipped cream collapses souffles so it is included, unwhipped, in the base instead. An Italian egg yolk sauce called a zabaglione (a great dessert in itself) forms that base, which is then flavored with dark chocolate and folded into beaten egg whites. The bubbles of air from the egg whites expand in the oven as the outside bakes, and also make the ice cream interior fluffy so that it doesn’t need to be churned. The result is kind of like a rare steak, a layer of cooked outside and then a gradient to the uncooked (and frozen in this case) inside. So, like a steak needs a very hot grill to create a flavorsome crust before the interior is overcooked, we use a very hot oven on fan bake to ensure we get the outside cooked while the inside is unchanged. The whole thing is then frozen to create a dish even your most judgmental Auntie will praise. An alternative name for the dish, coined with my colleagues Sara and James, is Alaskan Mousse. This is a cheeky nod to the similar dessert “Baked Alaska”, the mousse base of the dish and the enormous quadruped.
This is a great recipe to try with the family this Christmas. We have Pavlova in my family, always with fresh in-season boysenberries but I will be making room on the table for Half Baked Ice Cream this year for sure!