1-1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, preferably homemade, softened slightly
One 9-inch round sponge-cake layer, preferably homemade, sliced horizontally into 2 equal layers
1 cup orange marmalade or apricot preserves
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (optional)
8 egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
Crystallized violets for garnish
Pack the softened ice cream into a 1-1/2-quart bowl 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Cover the ice cream with foil, and freeze it until it is solid; two or three hours.
About 10 minutes before serving time, preheat the broiler to its highest setting. Spread one laver of the cake with the marmalade; if it is too thick to spread, thin it by heating into it 1 or 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Place the second cake layer on top. Set the cake on a flat, ovenproof dish.
In a deep bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk or a rotary or electric beater until they form soft peaks on the beater when it is lifted from the bowl. Still beating, slowly pour in the sugar, and continue to beat for about five minutes or until the egg whites become a stiff and glossy meringue. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and place it on top of the cake.
Using a narrow-bladed metal spatula, encase the cake and ice cream on all sides with the meringue, swirling the surface of the meringue as decoratively as you like. Slide the dessert under the broiler for two to three minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. Watch the dessert carefully; meringue burns easily. As soon as the baked Alaska is browned, garnish it with crystallized violets if you wish, and serve it before the ice cream melts.