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Molding mounds of ice cream. Ornamental bombes in the shape of lions, flowers, and towers recall the Victorian era. Lavish decorations graced everything from d'ecor to desserts

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``If a molded dessert comes out looking a little untidy, there are a number of remedies. Discreet smoothing with a spatula, the use of whipped cream, candied fruit and flowers, siftings of unsweetened cocoa, chopped nuts, powdered peanut brittle -- all work wonders.

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Mrs. Wheaton edited and wrote the introduction and glossary for the 1984 facsimile edition of Agnes B. Marshall's ``Book of Ices'' (London 1885), reissued by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as ``Victorian Ices and Ice Cream.''

It is a delightful compendium of unusual recipes, period photographs, and engravings of 19th-century kitchen equipment and dessert molds.

The book has recipes for ices with flavors such as spinach and cucumber curry, rice, brown bread, asparagus -- plus more ``likable'' flavors such as ginger, elderflower, cranberry, and Nesslerode Pudding.

Mrs. Wheaton's most recent book is ``Savoring the Past'': The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789'' (University of Pennsylvania Press).

Here are some of Mrs. Wheaton's recipes and some basic rules for making molded ice cream desserts. Notes on molding ice cream

When making multilayer bombes, allow one layer to set for an hour before adding the next. The ice cream should be fairly soft but not too soft.

Freeze at least 2 to 3 hours, depending on size. Prepare a day or two in advance if convenient. Half an hour or an hour before serving, depending on size, remove bombe from freezer to refrigerator.

A mold with cake will take a little longer to thaw; frozen cake has no charm at all.

Have ready a towel and a bowl somewhat deeper than the mold, with hot but not boiling water in it. Be sure there is not too much water in the bowl. Dip bombe into warm water, briefly at first, again if necessary.

Serving platters and individual plates should be chilled half an hour before using. If plates are chilled, the molded ice cream will not slide around and it will keep its shape longer. Victorian Ice Cream Bombes

1. For a bombe made with ordinary kitchen equipment, make three layers of ice cream in a metal mixing bowl. Use 1 quart Chocolate Chip for the outer layer, 1 quart French Vanilla for the second layer, and 1 pint Brownie Nut Cookies for the inner layer.

Serve on vine leaves or a doily on a china dish and use Victorian decorations such as crystallized rose petals and maidenhair fern, or use whipped cream, fresh fruit, nuts, or tiny candies.

2. Make a classic bombe in a tall fluted mold with an outer layer of 3 pints Mint Chocolate Chip and fill with 1 quart of Chocolate. Serve decorated with candied mint leaves and violets on a pewter dish.

3. Fill an animal mold with 1 pint French Vanilla. Use a plain rectangular mold for a base, and fill with 1 quart Peanut Butter Swirl to look like a marble plinth base.

Unmold on a china platter. Sprinkle with Peanut Brittle Powder and add candies or crystallized violets for eyes.

4. For a bombe with sauce use a tall mold and make an outer layer with 1 quart Butter Pecan and a filling of 1 pint French Vanilla and serve with Caramel Sauce. Peanut Brittle Powder

Break up a box of peanut brittle into 1-inch chunks. In small batches, powder them in a blender or food processor. Store in a tightly closed box. It will keep in the freezer for a month or more, to be used as needed. Caramel Sauce 1 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vinegar 1 1/4 cups water

Combine sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water in heavy metal saucepan over gentle heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve sugar. Do not let mixture boil until sugar has dissolved completely.

When it has, add a tight cover and bring mixture to boil for 2 minutes, or until remaining sugar crystals on pan sides have dissolved. Remove lid and cook until syrup begins to color, a few minutes. Watch closely so it won't get too dark.

When syrup is the color of honey, remove from heat and cool a few minutes. Cautiously pour remaining water into hot syrup, being careful of any steam.

Return pan to heat. Cook, stirring until water is incorporated.

If sauce is too sticky add another tablespoon of water. Sauce should be thin so it will be runny when chilled by ice cream. Hot sauces should not be used on bombes because they spoil the shape.