Chef turns retro rainbow snowball cake recipe into semifreddo sorbet cake


The 1950s gave us some pretty interesting recipes – and frozen desserts are no exception. In this episode of our So now series, watch chef Alexis deBoschnek bake a homemade rainbow snowball cake from a 1950s edition of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, then watch her create her own version of a cake to ice cream up to date. After a taste test, she will decide which is the sweetest treat.

Starting with the snowball cake, Alexis cuts strawberries, lime and orange sorbet on a baking sheet. “I love ice cream cakesbut there is always an element of stress,” she says, referring to fondant. After putting the sheet in the freezer, it changes to whipped cream, which is also the base of the cake.

Made with softened vanilla ice cream, Alexis adds a quart to a stand mixer and whips until smooth. She then layers it in a cake pan, with the scoops of sorbet.

“I’ve noticed in a lot of these recipes, there’s a real element of surprise,” she says. “Like it was in the 50s when they were, ‘Every food we make should be surprising’?”

Once the iced cake is back in the freezer, Alexis removes it from the pan with a hot spatula. She frosts with whipped ice cream, decorating her with a retro piping design. “Imagine giving this to a child on their birthday. I would love it,” she says. “I would also be excited as an adult.”

For his modern version, Alexis makes a half freddo (the Italian word for semi-frozen). Instead of using a traditional custard or meringue element, she opts for similar ingredients in the original recipe: raspberry and mango sorbet with vanilla ice cream. She lines a cake pan with parchment paper, places the ice cream in it, and tops it with whipped cream.

“The joy of my version is that you can get a little sloppy,” she says. Because she’s going for a marbled effect, the layers don’t have to be precise – once all the ice cream is in the pan, she scoops from the bottom and mixes it all in (while keeping the whipped cream on the top). After going into the freezer, it’s taste time.

Comparing each other’s wow factor, Alexis decides “they’re both cute”. However, the vintage version takes the cake in terms of presentation.

With flavor, she finds that the sorbet combination of the snowball cake is overdone and the texture of the whipped cream has hardened in the freezer. On the other hand, the flavors of the semifreddo work together like a dream (an ice cream dream, if you will).

“It’s so good; it’s so classic,” concludes Alexis. “Then and now, they’re both pretty awesome.

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