4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 pints ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt (strawberry ice cream and raspberry sorbet recommended)
1 cup sugar
8 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Almond cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and cream together until very light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the next egg. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, mix the milk and almond extract. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter and eggs, alternating with the milk. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden. Turn out onto a rack to cool.
When cake is cold, spread a layer of softened sorbet over it, followed by the ice cream, shaping it into a dome. Place on a plate and freeze for 2 hours, or until the ice cream is hard.
Meringue: In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil. When the syrup reaches 236 degrees on a candy thermometer, remove from the heat and pour into a glass measuring cup.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and beat until stiff. Whip the sugar syrup into the egg whites slowly and carefully, and continue to whip on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the egg whites have cooled.
To assemble: Cover the cake base and ice cream with a thick layer of meringue, swirling it with the back of a spoon to form decorative peaks. Place under a preheated broiler to brown -- it will do so almost instantly -- or use a blowtorch.
Photograph by William Meppem