There exists a ubiquitous frozen dessert sold in most coffee shops all over Italy and it’s a mass-produced concoction called “ripieno”, essentially the shell of a fruit (lemon, orange, peach) filled with ice cream or sorbet, usually of the same flavor as the vessel . These frozen fruit look lovely and they taste pretty good. Here in the States they are sold and marketed by a giant Italian company called Bindi and they can be found on most trattorias’ menus, you know the kind small enough not to be able to afford a pastry chef.
In the spirit of the “ripieno” and thinking about my post on Baked Alaska I created a hybrid that was very tasty. As it was a spur of the moment inspiration I used some vanilla ice cream found at the back of the freezer but home-made ice-cream or sorbet would have been better. I ended up with an extremely pretty dessert that could easily solicit oohs and aahs at any dinner party. And it couldn’t have been simpler. And please forgive this very bad blogger – I ate the whole thing before it dawned on me to take a photo…the good news is that if you decide to make it you don’t have to compare it to my perfect looking specimen…
Start by halving a couple of thick skinned oranges or pink grapefruits. Using a pairing knife, gently cut by inserting the tip of the knife between the membranes. The citrus slivers will easily fall out. Gather them in a bowl, sprinkle them with a teaspoon of sugar and 2 or 3 tablespoons of limoncello (or other fruit brandy). Refrigerate for an hour or so.
Go back to your citrus and carefully remove the membrane – freeze the half shells.
When ready to serve, whisk 1/4 cup of egg whites (2 or 3 depending on egg size) with a pinch of salt until foamy. With mixer still running, gradually add half a cup of granulated sugar and whip until very stiff. When lifting the whisker, the meringue should not fall back into the bowl.
Turn your broiler on and position a rack about 6″ from the oven roof. Remove the shells from the freezer, drain the fruit and place it on the bottom of the shells. Scoop some ice-cream or sorbet until level with the edge of the fruit shell. Using a pastry bag or a large spoon, swirl the meringue on top of the ice-cream, making sure to cover the entire surface.
Place the fruit in a roasting pan (if you wish, you can add enough ice cubes to create a solid base around the fruit) and put in the oven for a minute or so, turning the pan half way through, until the meringue begins to brown. Remove and serve immediately.
Health caution: the egg whites will not be fully cooked, a potential hazard if the eggs carry salmonella.