In the Kitchen with Mina: Grapefruit Dessert (1941)

Dear Constant Reader,

Saturday night I made a dessert I’ve been dying to try for awhile, sort of a baked Alaska with grapefruit. It was originally published in the New York Times on January 12, 1941. The recipe as it was printed is below my signature, if you’re interested. A modernized version was published a few years ago, which is what caught my eye.

We had a couple of lovely grapefruit at Stately Babydoll Manor, sent by my doting mother from Florida. I don’t care for grapefruit, but I really wanted to try this recipe. The sacrifices I make for my art.

Take grapefruit — use the pink or ruby red because it’s sweeter — and cut in half. Cut out the sections without slitting through the skin and supreme them (That’s a shorter way of saying to cut away the membrane between the sections). This is a lot easier with a grapefruit knife, which I don’t have.

Put the sections in a bowl and pour some brandy over them. Cover and chill for at least an hour. Keep the shells; you’ll need them later.

When ready to serve, turn on the broiler.

Make meringue by beating egg whites with a pinch of salt. When they’re foamy, add some sugar and beat until smooth & glossy. It should make soft peaks. You definitely want a mixer for this. Only crazy people make meringue by hand.

Dump some ice cubes into a small baking pan. Put the grapefruit shells on top of the ice, which helps keep the contents cold and stabilizes the shells. Spoon the grapefruit sections into the shells, leaving behind the brandy/juice mixture.

Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the fruit. The original recipe called for vanilla, but I used caramel swirl, for interest. Cover the ice cream and the whole top of the grapefruit shell with the meringue.

Stick under the broiler for about a minute. Really, only a minute. Keep a close eye on the desserts. As soon as the meringue browns like a marshmallow, it’s ready.

Put into fancy dishes (in the heat of the moment, I forgot about our lovely stemmed sundae glasses and just used ramekins) and serve immediately.

It was fabulous, and I’m saying that as grapefruit hater who’s not super-fond of brandy either.

I used a “churn-style” ice cream which has a lot of air whipped into it and it was pretty melty by the time I hit that layer. I might try a denser sort next time. I also might pre-scoop the ice cream and let the scoops harden up in the freezer until it’s time to assemble everything.

The brandy & juice that’s left in the bowl makes a pretty good cocktail, I’m told by one of my taste-testers.

A Dessert in Search of a Name

1 pink grapefruit
2 Tablespoons brandy
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 scoops ice cream
Ice cubes

Cut grapefruit it in half. Cut out the fruit sections and supreme them, reserving the shells.

Put the sections in a bowl and pour brandy over them. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, make meringue. Beat egg white with a pinch of salt, until foamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth & glossy, with soft peaks.

Cover the bottom of small baking pan with ice cubes. Put the grapefruit shells on top of the ice. Spoon the grapefruit sections into the shells.

Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the fruit. Cover the ice cream and the whole top of the grapefruit shell with the meringue.

Stick under the broiler for about a minute, until meringue is browned.

Put grapefruit halves into shallow dishes and serve immediately.

Serves 2. Can easily be scaled up.


From Mr. Gonneau [Maurice Gonneau, executive chef of the Park Lane and the Chatham], too, comes a recipe of his own that’s a perfect party dessert. All of the fruit is carefully removed from half of a grapefruit. Seven or eight of the neat segments are soaked for an hour or more in brandy or in kirsch, then arranged in the bottom of the grapefruit shell. Over them goes a big spoonful of vanilla ice-cream, to be hidden under a fluffy meringue. The grapefruit, keeping cool in a pan of cracked ice, goes into a hot oven for two minutes so that the meringue may take on color. When it is as brown as a sun bather such a dessert is as impressive as that haughty bit, a baked Alaska.

Published in: on 2 February 2015 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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More Cooking

Dear Constant Reader,

Please vote for The Boston Babydolls as “Best Theatre Group” on The Boston A-List. We’re currently in 5th place!

When I was young, I was subjected to tapioca pudding and hated it. But now one of my favorite summertime desserts is technically tapioca pudding: Strawberry Tapioca Flamingo. It’s from the late 40’s/early 50’s and so good. Although strawberries were the original and a favorite (especially since we have friends nearby with a strawberry field in their front yard who always need help disposing of their abundant crop), it’s good with other soft summer fruit.

Fruit Flamingo, a la Stately Babydoll Manor

1 pound fruit (berries or stone fruit), hulled, stoned, &c.
1/2 cup sugar*
about 2 cups pineapple juice**
1/3 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon salt***
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cut fruit into bite-sized chunks. Add sugar and let sit for at least half an hour.

Drain juice from fruit and add enough pineapple juice to make 3 cups.

Combine juices, tapioca, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. It’s going to be thin, but don’t worry. It’ll thicken as it cools.

Fold in fruit. Let cool, stirring occasionally.

When it’s cool, distribute half the mixture amongst 4 attractive dishes or cocktail glasses. Chill all.

Before serving, whip cream and fold into remaining mixture. Top off the dishes.

Serves 4.

Strawberry Flamingo garnished with fraises du bois from the Manor Gardens.


*The original called for a full cup, but I find that’s too cloying.
**Water works just fine. I’m not sure I’ve ever had pineapple juice on hand.
***Kosher salt works best.

Published in: on 11 June 2013 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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