Prep Time:  20 minutes | Active Time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes

(includes cooling and freezing time)

For a big showpour the alcohol on the cakes, serve them, and have every adult light their own.

You can put the whole meringue in the freezer and pull it out the next day; that way everything will be assembled and ready to go.


For the Dark Chocolate Cake

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, such as black cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup hot, strong black coffee
  • 2 pints cookies-and-cream ice cream, softened

For the Meringue

  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup 100-proof (or higher) brandy (optional)

Special Equipment

  • 2-1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, small kitchen torch or matches


1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch metal cake pan with cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, and spray the paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and oil. Gently stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the hot coffee and stir until the batter is completely smooth.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Invert the cake out of the pan onto a large cutting board, countertop, or other clean, flat surface.

4. Use a 2-1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut 12 circles out of the cake and place them on a small baking sheet. Use a 2-ounce (1/4-cup) scoop to portion leveled mounds of ice cream on top of each cake round. Set the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until the cake and ice cream are completely frozen, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

5. Make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer), combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and scraped vanilla seeds. Whip on medium-high speed until the egg whites are foamy, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then whip until the egg whites hold stiff, glossy peaks and there are no longer granules of sugar in the meringue, 6 to 7 minutes.