Hi, I would like to make Nigella's Meringue Gelato Cake for a family dinner and need to cater for young children. As an alternative to coffee or rum I was thinking of just using vanilla essence. Any other suggestions? Best, Fiona
Nigella's Meringue Gelato Cake (from Nigellissima and on the Nigella website) is a type of Italian "semifreddo" where flavoured whipped cream is frozen in a loaf tin with crushed meringue. Nigella uses a tablespoon of coffee liqueur or rum as this will provide a little flavouring but also the small amount of alcohol can help the texture of the cake by making it slightly less icy.
You can omit the alcohol and add vanilla instead. We would suggest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, which is a natural product and we feel has a better taste. Vanilla essence is a synthetic flavouring. You could also use 1 teaspoon espresso coffee powder and 1 tablespoon icing (confectioner's) sugar instead if you wanted a hint of coffee flavour. The cake may be slightly icier and firmer without the addition of alcohol so you may like to let it stand out of the freezer for 5 minutes before you slice it.