Ice Cream/Frozen Desserts

Nigella Lawson’s Magical, No-Churn Gelato Cake (+ a Genius Desserts Cookbook Sneak Peek!)

August  1, 2018

Every Wednesday this August, we’re giving you sneak peeks of some of the most gloriously summery recipes in our almost-born cookbook Genius Desserts. (You can order your signed copy now to get your mitts on the rest when the book drops September 4th!)

For the next few weeks, we’re going to be doing something a little different around these parts.

You see, Genius Desserts—the sweet sequel to the Genius Recipes cookbook—will finally be ours to have and hold and smear with chocolate on September 4th.

But that’s 34 whole days from now! And there are so many miraculous summery desserts tucked away in the book that you could be making and eating that whole time.

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So every week till the book comes out for real, I’ll be sharing a sneak peek at a favorite summertime recipe from the book (official James Ransom photo and all), plus a little behind-the-scenes story or tip.

Like this: Remember those amazingly deep-red, candy-like, slow-roasted strawberries I shared back in April? Michelle Polzine, the pastry chef behind 20th Century Cafe in San Francisco, wrote up and emailed me the recipe from her phone while she was locked out of her apartment—that’s how simple it is.

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Top Comment:
“Yay, Kristen!! Congrats! So excited for Genius Desserts to come out (and for more morning ice cream parties with you)!”
— Eunice C.

OK, that’s enough nostalgia till next week—now, onto the recipe, ripped straight from the pages of Genius Desserts: a frozen concoction from the great Nigella Lawson that sounds (and looks) (and tastes) a whole lot fancier than the low-tech whipping, folding, and freezing it asks of you. I recommend making it any time you see the weather forecast going to a dark, hot place, to swiftly correct the situation.

genius desserts sneak peek!

Nigella Lawson’s Meringue Gelato Cake with Chocolate Sauce

Much of the wonder of this dessert may lie in its semihomemade ease—you’re doing little more than bashing up store-bought meringues and folding them into whipped cream. But this gelato cake comes from quite literary roots, reminding us that we should be open to finding cooking inspiration in all sorts of places: dusty books at estate sales, our elders’ recipe boxes, or the yellowed clippings that flutter out of an old birthday card. In this case, it did help that Nigella Lawson could read Italian.

This is a no-churn affair. You mix everything together, wodge it into a loaf tin, freeze, and you’re done.
Nigella Lawson

Lawson is a self-proclaimed lover of languages (you can sense this as you read her lyrical recipe writing and occasional invented words). She found the basic notion of this recipe in an Italian book from 1986 by chef and culinary philosopher Gioacchino Scognamiglio. It called for an obscure liqueur, which she tracked down and studied; her version is modified for boozes we can more easily find. The frozen cake is downy, like a more weightless icebox cake, with gentle crackles of meringue and chocolate that melt away quickly on your tongue.

p.s. Here's a video of my friend (and Food52's Director of Brand Activation) Eunice Choi and me making the recipe, so you can see just how casual that can be. Grab a friend and get to it!

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you to stylist-friend Ali Slagle for this one!

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From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Judit
  • Lynne Goldschmidt
    Lynne Goldschmidt
  • Kate's Kitchen
    Kate's Kitchen
  • ctgal
  • Eunice Choi
    Eunice Choi
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Judit February 25, 2019
OK, meanwhile I found the recipe, I need 2 egg whites.
Judit February 25, 2019
Hi, If I homemade the meringue cookies, how many eggs shall I need?
Thanks for the answer.
Lynne G. August 9, 2018
I smiled through the whole video of you two! So cute, made my day!
Kate's K. August 6, 2018
That looks so great - you’ve inspired me to make it soon!
ctgal August 1, 2018
You guys are adorable!
Kristen M. August 1, 2018
Thanks, ctgal! I wish Eunice could cook with me all the time. (It would be way more fun, and I'd probably mess up less!)
Eunice C. August 1, 2018
Yay, Kristen!! Congrats! So excited for Genius Desserts to come out (and for more morning ice cream parties with you)!
Kristen M. August 1, 2018
My fearless copilot! Thank you!!
Eric K. August 1, 2018
Nigella and this cake make me want to be a better person.
Olivia B. August 1, 2018
Eunice, you're a fantastic sous chef.
Kristen M. August 1, 2018
+1 Without Eunice's eagle eye, that chocolate sauce was never going to happen.