We were admiring this dessert from Caviar Russe in New York City. It’s art on a plate.
Then we realized: This is relatively easy to put together.
We love artistic food, so we set out to make our version of this cake-and-ice cream dessert.
If you buy the loaf cake instead of baking it, the only time-consuming parts are making mini meringues and cream cheese frosting.
You can combine any flavors, use fruit purée instead of frosting, and add your own signature garnishes.
Here’s what we did.
To save time, we purchased a dense carrot cake—the same type used by Caviar Russe.
Instead of cutting a square-ish slice, cut something more stylish, like the slim rectangle in photo #1.
Don’t worry about “wasted” cake trimmings. In our book, cake is never wasted. At the least, you can toss it into the freezer to serve later, with a bowl of ice cream or an ad hoc trifle.
It’s easier to pipe meringue cookies, especially the mini meringues used in this recipe. There are three on the plate.
You can buy them from Miss Meringue, although homemade meringues, without preservatives, taste better.
Here’s the recipe for the mini meringues in photo #3.
You may also know a local bakery that sells them.
Or, if you can only find large or jumbo meringues, cut them and serve the rough pieces—“rustic art.”
Whatever you choose, make them all one color. Different colors are distracting on an already-diverse plate.
You’ll note that there’s a dab of something white on the top right of the carrot cake. That’s crème fraîche, not a meringue.
While we love it, we omitted it. There’s enough going on.
3. Cookie Crumbles
These serve as a bed for the scoop of ice cream (top left of cake), and are a crunchy textural addition.
We bought, instead of baked, the cookies; and chose oatmeal cookies for their homey flavor pairing with carrot cake (we bought cookies without raisins, for ease in crumbling).
Use the cookies of your choice, from chocolate wafers to shortbread. It’s all about flavor pairing.
4. Ice Cream
Vanilla goes best with carrot cake (or rum raisin, if you can find it). But expand your horizons with other pairings: coffee or strawberry ice cream with chocolate cake, for example.
You can create your swirl from fruit purée or frosting. Since we chose carrot cake, we used cream cheese frosting, which also holds its shape better then purée.
We added lemon zest and yellow food color, and copied the swirl pattern in the photo.
If you like canned frosting, you can buy it and add the zest and color.
Lastly, a color counterpoint to perk up the plate.
Caviar Russe used herb fronds (the spots of green), but we didn’t want anything on the plate that people wouldn’t eat. We like mint with chocolate and other flavors, for example, but we didn’t want it as an edible with carrot cake.
So we bought pomegranate arils, and they looked great. We could have used raspberries (or pastel candy lentils), but wanted a more delicate touch.