Mention "Florida," and you're bound to hear a wide breadth of opinions- all staunchly defended, few substantiated. Yet, what Florida lacks in diversity of weather or temperature, it makes up for with its mélange of cultures, tastes, sounds, and perspectives. In some ways, Florida is the modern-day equivalent of nineteenth-century Manhattan; a variable testing ground of clashing languages, global originations, and bullish dreams resulting from the perennial ingress and egress across borders. It's not for the faint of heart and not for the faint of temperature, but it's an indelible part of our North American identity. And what's not to love about the state that gave us ATMs so that rollerbladers could go to the bank?
This cake pays tribute to Florida's dynamic flavors, colors, and textures. Flavors of bold grapefruit, orange, and key lime, toasted coconut, golden graham, roast marshmallows, and creamy vanilla. Textures of ethereal meringue, ever-so-slightly-chewy toasted marshmallows, satin cream, and crunchy coconut and graham.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer
4 cups (908g) heavy cream
In a very large bowl
2 14-oz cans (794g) of sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons salt
In a medium bowl
2 cups (205g) graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 cups (165g) toasted coconut flakes
8 tablespoons (113g) melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Hanging out on the sidelines
2 tablespoons of grated orange zest
2 tablespoons of grated key lime zest
2 tablespoons of grated grapefruit zest
8 egg whites (200g)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Start by preparing your pan. I made this in a bundt pan, but it can be made with any pan you have as long as it's large enough- at least 10 cups capacity. Whatever pan or shape you choose (get creative!), line the pan with plastic wrap and set it aside.
Mix the graham crackers, toasted coconut, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks.
In a very large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt.
Fold the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk mixture until everything is evenly incorporated, and portion this mixture into three separate bowls. For those playing along with measurements, that's about 568g per bowl.
Stir the grapefruit zest into one bowl, the orange zest into another, and the lime zest into the last.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the graham cracker mixture (about 200g) on the bottom of the prepared pan and top with one of the flavors of cream. Spread the cream evenly in the pan and smooth the top. Place it in the freezer to set up- for about two hours- and place the other two flavors in the fridge.
After two hours, remove the pan from the freezer. Sprinkle with another 1/3 (about 200g) of the graham cracker mixture and top with another flavor of cream. Again, spread it evenly throughout the pan and smooth the top. Place back in the freezer for another few hours.
After two hours, remove the pan from the freezer, sprinkle with the remaining graham cracker mixture, and top with the last flavor of cream. Again, spread evenly throughout the pan and smooth the top. Place back in the freezer for a final few hours.
Toward the end of the freezing time, make the meringue. Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a large, heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl over a small pot of simmering water and whisk until the egg whites and sugar reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check the temperature with a candy or meat thermometer.
Once the egg whites reach 120 degrees, remove them from the heat. You can pour the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer, or you can keep them in the same bowl and use a hand mixer to whip them. Either way, add the cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks- about 5-7 minutes.
Remove the ice cream cake from the freezer and turn it out onto your serving platter or plate. The plastic wrap is helpful here, making removing the cake simple. If you are going to use your oven to brown the meringue, make sure that the cake is on a plate or platter that can withstand heat. Once the cake is on your serving platter, spread the meringue all over the cake and make giant swirls and spiky peaks in the texture. Place the cake back in the freezer for an added bump of coldness.
If you're using your oven to brown, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Remove the cake from the freezer and place it on the center rack of your oven. Bake the cake for only a few short minutes until it is toasty-roasty and smells like beautiful summer-y marshmallows. If you have a kitchen torch, remove the cake from the freezer and pass the torch all over the cake, in all the crevices and crannies, until the meringue is as well-done as you like.
Here's a tip: you can put the cake back into the freezer and serve it later that night, tomorrow, or even a few days from now. Note that the meringue will never freeze solid, so be careful not to knock anything into it. When ready to serve, either now or later, slice into slabs of fluffy creaminess and devour.