Christmas Special: Recipe for Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce


meringue cakeI found this recipe for one of the world’s easiest but most delicious desserts in a rather fabulous book, by chef and “culinary philosopher” Gioacchino Scognamiglio, called Il Chichibio: ovvero poesia della cucina, which translates as “The Gallant: or the Poetry of Cooking” (and Chichibio, I should also tell you, was a rakish Venetian cook in Boccaccio’s Decameron). At Scognamiglio’s instigation, I went to great lengths to acquire a bottle of Elisir San Marzano, which has a peculiarly Italian, chocolate-coffee-herbal hit. Feel free to use coffee liqueur or rum or, better still, a mixture of the two in its place.

This is a no-churn affair. You mix everything together, wodge it into a loaf tin, freeze and you’re done. I like this with a few raspberries to tumble around and a chocolate sauce to Jackson Pollock over it.

For how many?  Serves 6-8


  • 300ml double cream
  • 30g dark chocolate (min.70% cocoa solids)
  • 1 x 15ml tbsp. Elisir San Marzano, or coffee liqueur and/or rum
  • 1 packet 8 meringue nests (approx. 100g total)

To serve:

  • 250g raspberries
  • For the chocolate sauce (makes approx 300ml):
  • 250ml double cream
  • 125g dark chocolate (min.70% cocoa solids), finely chopped or in buttons made for melting
  • 2 x 15ml tbsp. Elisir San Marzano, or coffee liqueur and/or rum


Line your loaf tin with clingfilm, making sure you have enough overhang to cover the top later.

Whip the cream until thick but still soft.

Chop the chocolate very finely so that you have a pile of dark splinters, and fold them into the cream, along with the liqueur.

Now, using brute force, crumble the meringue nests and fold these in, too.

Pack this mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula as you go, and bring the clingfilm up and over to seal the top, then get out more clingfilm to wrap around the whole tin. Freeze until solid, which should take around 8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, unwrap the outer layer of plastic wrap, then unpeel the top and use these bits of long overhanging wrap to lift out the ice-cream brick. Unwrap and unmould it onto a board and cut the frozen meringue cake into slabs to serve. I like to zig-zag a little chocolate sauce over each slice, and sprinkle a few raspberries alongside on each plate.

For the chocolate sauce:

Pour the cream into a saucepan and add the tiny bits of chocolate.

Put over a gentle heat and whisk as the chocolate melts, taking the pan off the heat once the chocolate is almost all melted. If the mixture gets too hot, the chocolate will seize, whereas it will happily continue melting in the warm cream of the heat.

Add the liqueur, still of the heat, and whisk again to amalgamate the sauce completely. Pour into a jug, whisking every now and again until it cools to the desired temperature.

About the Book

Like the Italian cooking from which it takes its inspiration, Nigellissima is a celebration of food that is fresh, tasty and unpretentious. Nigella serves up 120 irresistible recipes that are simple and speedy, elevating everyday eating into no-fuss feasts. Italian food has colonised the world. Nigellissima shows us how and why in these delicious dishes from telephone-cord pasta with Sicilian pesto to quick Calabria lasagne, from Sardinian couscous to Venetian stew, from Italian apple pie and no-churn ices to panna cotta and sambuca kisses in a round-Italy quickstep that culminates in a festive chapter of party food with an Italian inspired Christmas feast as its mouth-watering centrepiece. From the traditional to the unfamiliar, here are recipes to excite the taste buds and the imagination, without stressing the cook. Nigellas gastronomic heart is in Italy and she conjures up with passionate relish, the warmth, the simplicity and the directness of Italian cooking with an Anglo-twist. Illustrated with gorgeous photographs to instruct and delight, Nigellissima shows how we can all bring the spirit of Italy into our kitchens and onto the plate, pronto.

About the Author

Nigellissima is something of a sentimental journey for Nigella Lawson. She lived and worked in Italy as a chambermaid in Florence. When young and read Italian at Oxford, before becoming a journalist and food writer. She is the author of eight bestselling books How to Eat, How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Bites, Forever Summer, Feast, Nigella Express, Nigella Christmas and Kitchen which together with several successful TV series and her iPhone App, Nigella Quick Collection, have made hers a household name around the world. She is also a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Italian Literature.

You can buy the book here:


The Penguin India Blog

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