For the crust-
1 cup salted pretzels
1 cup walnuts
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt (I used Stumptown Coffee Flake Salt)
2-3 oz. butter, melted
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the pretzels until finely crumbled. Add the walnuts, brown sugar and salt. Pulse a few times until combined. Add between 2 and 3 oz. of butter until the mixture holds together. Transfer the mixture to a lightly buttered 9” pie plate. Use your fingers to press the crust evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
For the ice cream layer- (there are no bells and whistles in this layer, but you can certainly fold in any number of treats into the ice cream or put 10 oz. of ice cream in the pie shell, a layer of bananas or nuts and then another 10 oz. of ice cream; totally up to you)
20 oz. of good quality ice cream
I find it easiest to scoop the ice cream into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and give it a whirl until the ice cream is softened but not melted. It only takes a few spins of the paddle to achieve this. (Alternatively, you can scoop the ice cream into a large bowl and use a wooden spoon to soften it.) Scrape the ice cream into the pie shell, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Sad but true, the pie should sit in the freezer for several hours. It makes it easier to add the meringue and slice it in the end.
For the fudge sauce- (from Maida Heatter)
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
generous pinch of salt
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, put through a fine mesh strainer
Place the heavy cream and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the cream just begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the sugars and the salt, stirring to dissolve, then add the cocoa. Whisk until smooth then remove from the heat.
For the toasty meringue-
1½ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup water
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place the egg whites and vanilla into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer onto medium and whisk just until the egg whites turn foamy. Turn off the mixer and prepare the sugar syrup.
In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Stir the sugar to dissolve and heat over medium. Place a Pyrex measuring cup next to where you are working. (Once the sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees F, you will need to pour the syrup into the Pyrex cup to stop the cooking.) When the syrup has reached 240 degrees F, pour it into the Pyrex cup, turn the mixer on to medium and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Aim for the side of the bowl, trying not to hit the whisk attachment. Once all of the sugar syrup has been added, turn the mixer to high and whisk until it turns very thick; this takes between 8-10 minutes. Scrape the meringue from the whisk attachment before it gets too hard to do so, and retrieve the ice cream pie from the freezer. Spread the meringue over the ice cream and swirl it decoratively. Return the pie to the freezer (you can even do this several hours ahead of time) before browning the meringue with a kitchen torch. Serve the pie with fudge sauce and fresh fruit.
(Note: You can skip this step and substitute freshly whipped cream, but the meringue adds a nice balance to the saltiness of the crust. If you use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue, you never need to turn on the oven for this pie; a treat in itself.)