Posted by: Catherine | April 19, 2009

Chatting with Gail Monaghan… Plus the Recipe for her Favorite Dessert (RR*)

Meet Gail, author of Lost Desserts, creator of the Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe, lecturer, teacher...and so much more.

Meet Gail, author of Lost Desserts, creator of the Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe, incredible cook, lecturer, teacher, writer, editor...and, yes, even more.

(Reader Recipe)

51xZ3TiNqHL._SL500_AA240_Since so many of you enjoyed the post on Gail’s Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe (omg…so good!), I want to introduce her to you in person–and you’re about to get another of her amazing desserts when you scroll on down. She is an amazingly talented cook, who btw has weekly cooking classes in her NYC loft—you can get all the info on her web site, A sequel (shhhh, about entrees) to her beautiful book Lost Desserts, also to be published by Rizzoli and photographed by Eric Boman, is set for 2010 publication. It’ll be just as gorgeous and filled with just as many wonderful recipes and stories. Stay tuned here, too, because Gail is sending a copy of Lost Desserts for a giveaway, and she has agreed to be a guest blogger down the road.

How did you come up with that Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe?

I had made a much-too-big pavlova with whipped cream and lemon curd and couldn’t bring myself to toss the leftovers. So I just mushed everything together, froze it…and voila!

What’s with the “Lost” bit?

I wrote an article for the old House & Garden about the great desserts from some of our most beloved-but-shuttered restaurants. Those desserts had been loved…and lost. I thought they’d make a great book. So, I gathered them and added some recipes from friends and famous chefs.

How’d you get into cooking professionally?

I started in the design business, but cooking was my passion. I wanted to try to make it my profession, too. I switched directions and went to cooking school, the Institute of Culinary Education, which, at that time, was Peter Kump’s.

What was your first cooking job?

Decorating Valentine cookie boxes for Dean and DeLuca.

Then what?

I baked scones for a while, wrote two cookbooks (Perfect Picnics for All Seasons and Some Like It Hot) and set up a cookbook division for the publisher, Harry Abrams.

What about your cooking classes, which you have in your loft in New York City?

I love them! I do one per week—they’re complete meals and people bring wine. We cook, eat and talk. It’s really kind of a salon. I would love to write a book about them.


I’m working on it….

What’s your all-time favorite dessert?

It’s called Fané. I have a friend who lives in a chateau outside of Paris, and one New Year’s I was there when the cook made it. It was the best thing I’ve ever eaten and I was promised the recipe…which never arrived. So, I asked my friend again and she said, “Gail, I don’t know what you’re talking about. We didn’t have Fané.”

Aha. A recipe horder. Not the unconfidential cooks’ style.

Eventually I got it—it’s meringue and nougat and ice cream and chocolate. It’s absolutely divine. The whole is much better than the sum of its parts.

Gail's all-time favorite dessert: Fane, photographed by Eric Boman in Lost Desserts.

Gail's all-time favorite dessert: Fané, photographed by Eric Boman in Lost Desserts.

(serves 10 to 12)

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup plus 5 tablespoons superfine sugar
Cooking-oil spray
3 pints vanilla ice cream, softened
5 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces homemade or top quality hard white nougat, crushed into small pieces
¾ cup (about 3 ounces) shaved bittersweet chocolate.

The day before, prepare the meringue: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on low speed. When soft peaks form, increase the speed and sprinkle in ¾ cup of the sugar until the meringue holds stiff peaks.

Spread meringue into a rough 1-inch layer on baking sheet. Bake until slightly sticky when pierced with a knife, about 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave meringue inside for a few hours to dry completely. Break into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Four hours before serving, assemble the fané: Spray the inside of a 4-quart metal bowl with cooking spray and lay a large piece of plastic wrap against the inside of the bowl. Spread the ice cream evenly over the entire inside of bowl and plastic wrap. It should be about 1-inch thick, just around the side of a bowl—you’ll soon be filling it. Cover and freeze.

Two hours before serving, whip the cream. When it begins to thicken, add remaining sugar and the vanilla, then beat to soft peaks. Set aside 2 cups of the whipped cream and refrigerate. Fold nougat into remaining whipped cream, then add to the ice-cream-lined bowl. Cover and freeze.

Just before serving, rewhip the reserved whipped cream until they form firm peaks. Turn the contents of the bowl out onto a platter, separating the plastic wrap from the bowl. Remove the plastic wrap. Cover the ice cream with the whipped cream, followed by chunks of meringue. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Let soften a bit at the table before cutting into wedges.

NOTE: Please also check out my version: Chocolate Fane.

Other Recipes from Gail

dsc_34 Chocolate Torrone Loaf

angelslice1 Chocolate Angel Pie

melon31 Melon Surprise

dsc_00841Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe

overall-side-1Coffiesta Sundae

img_1577 Jeremiah Tower’s Black Bean Gazpacho



  1. What a great interview and inspiration.

  2. Nice interview, and her book sound interesting. Glad that someone actually wrote a book about it. The Fané loks beautiful and sounds delicious.

  3. How wonderful! Thank you for interviewing her and securing another incredible recipe. The lemon bombe was so good I can’t wait to give this a try!

  4. Oh my, that looks incredible. I think it might be my favorite dessert also, and I haven’t even tasted it.

  5. Great interview and thanks for sharing this fabulous dessert! I would love to try it soon!

  6. Terrific interview, I enjoyed it thoroughly. This dessert looks absolutely amazing. Truly delicious. My goodness I cant even imagine how tasty this must be.

  7. It’s wonderful to ‘meet’ the woman behind the delicious Frozen Lemon Meringue Bombe – and to hear, like lots of great recipes, it was a happy ‘accident’ (though I have problems believing that there is such a thing as a ‘much too big’ pavlova). The Fane looks incredible!

  8. so this fane is new to me, but come on–ice cream, cream, nougat, and chocolate? sign me up immediately! i can see why it’s a favorite. 🙂

  9. I love it when people share 😉 !!
    I don’t even like half the ingred’s, and really I’m an olive not a cacao bean, but I’ve just got to try this!! Plus, it’d look gorgeous on a table!

  10. What a great interview. I haven’t heard of that cookbook author, but man, that Fane looks out of this world!!

    Thanks for introducing her to me!

  11. What a great interview! And of course the dessert sounds delicious too 🙂

  12. loved the interview! I am fascinated that a cookie box decorator turned out to be such a terrific cook, teacher, writer, editor, …..god is there anything this woman can’t do?

  13. […] my friend Gail Monaghan, cook and cookbook author extraordinaire, told me about this sundae, I nearly fell off my chair […]

  14. Thnx for sharing this interview Catherine. It reads beautifully, Gail is truly talented and OMG now I want Fané 🙂

  15. […] read about Gail Monaghan’s all-time favorite dessert, Fané, but…something was missing for me…something…could it […]

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