FOR THE MERINGUE SHELLS
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
TO MAKE THE MERINGUE SHELLS
1| Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 3-inch pastry ring or a glass as a template, trace eight circles on the paper 2 inches apart.
2| In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high, beating until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining ½ cup of sugar into the meringue.
3| Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star-shaped tip and pipe a disk of meringue inside each circle. Pipe two rings atop one another around the edge of each disk to form the sides of the shells. (You can also do this using a large Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off—the shells will taste just as good, they just won’t be fluted.)
4| Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not remotely browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to completely cool in the oven, about 2 hours. (Ina Garten leaves hers in as long as overnight.)
5| Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
FOR THE TOASTED ALMONDS
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup blanched sliced almonds
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
TO MAKE THE TOASTED ALMONDS
1| Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until foaming and then remove from heat. Add the almonds and stir to coat. Sprinkle in the salt and stir again.
2| Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes, shaking pan and stirring almonds about halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool completely before using.
FOR THE ORANGE-CHOCOLATE SAUCE
3 wide strips orange zest
⅔ cup cocoa powder, sifted
⅔ cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (I prefer Cointreau)
Pinch of kosher salt
TO MAKE THE ORANGE-CHOCOLATE SAUCE
1| Bring the orange zest, cocoa powder, corn syrup, and water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes.
2| Remove from heat, discard orange zest, and stir in chocolate. Let stand a couple of minutes, and then whisk sauce until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in liqueur and salt and serve.
NOTE: The sauce may be made up to a week ahead of time and refrigerated. Reheat slowly on the stovetop or in a microwave, where you should stir every 10 seconds until the sauce is just warm and pourable.
FOR THE DESSERT
8 scoops coffee ice cream
Meringue Shells (recipe above)
Chocolate-Orange Sauce (recipe above)
Toasted Almonds (recipe above)
TO ASSEMBLE THE DESSERT
Just before serving, place one scoop of ice cream in each meringue shell. Spoon warm sauce over the ice cream and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.
Excerpted from Julia Reed’s New Orleans: Food, Fun, and Field Trips for Letting the Good Times Roll. Check out Flower magazine’s Q&A with Reed about the book, which has been described as a love letter to the city. Photography by Paul Costello