Baked Alaska

I love old school kitchy desserts. Desserts that aren't really that popular anymore but to me, reflect a more glamorous and fabulous time. Think Palm Springs in the 50s. 

Desserts like crepe suzette and bananas fosters just scream glamour to me. (or basically any dessert that they light on fire table side) And of course let's not forget baked alaska. Layers of ice cream topped with a marshmallowy toasted meringue. It looks super fancy but it is pretty much the original ice cream cake that has been around since 1876 (that is what the Google told me at least). Since this weekend is the unofficial start to summer, I thought I would bring this retro ice cream cake back into the spotlight. 

Couple notes on the recipe. 

First, you can always, always skip the meringue part. Instead just make one killer ice cream cake. You could also do whipped cream instead, just don't torch the whipped cream. 

You can use store-bought ice cream and store-bought cake. If you use store bought cake, no need to have a perfect round bottom, just crumble the cake and press it onto the bottom of the frozen ice cream creating an even layer.  

Lastly, the meringue tends to slip and slide a little with the ice cream. Couple ways to fix that. First, work really quickly and eat it immediately, which is what I did.  Or the other way would be to press a really thin layer of cake into the bowl before the ice cream goes in. It doesn't have to be perfect and you can just use large chunks/crumbs of cake to create an even layer. Think of it more as a crumb coat for the meringue to cling to. Doesn't have to be perfect but make it an even layer if you can. 


Baked Alaska 

3 pints of ice cream (assorted flavors), softened  

For the cake: 

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For the meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Line an 8" or 9" bowl with plastic wrap allowing the plastic wrap to hang over the edges about 4 to 6 inches.  Press the ice cream into the bowl. (If using different flavors of ice cream, freeze each ice cream layer individually before adding the next layer. ) Wrap the ice cream in the plastic wrap then freeze overnight or at least until the ice cream is really hard. 

While the ice cream is freezing make the cake. (If you are using store bought cake, skip the cake instructions and go down to the meringue)

Pre-heat an oven to 350°F. Line an 8" cake pan with parchment paper. 

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 

In a medium size pot, melt together the sugar, chocolate and butter over medium low heat. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour mixture and pour into prepared pan.

Bake cake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely then slice the cake in half, horizontally. 

When ready to assemble the dessert, remove the ice cream from the freezer and unwrap. Place one of the cake rounds onto the bowl with the ice cream round. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. Save the remaining cake round for another use. (cake actually freezes really well if wrapped in plastic wrap). 

Make the meringue by combining the eggs whites with the remaining sugar in a medium sized pot. Place over medium heat and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is warm and sugar has dissolved. 

Carefully pour the mixture into a stand mixer and beat on high with the whisk attachment until the egg whites are white and fluffy. 

Assemble the dessert by inverting the bowl of ice cream onto serving plater. Remove the bowl (if it won't come off easily, run it under warm water until it just barely loosens enough to be removed, don't melt the ice cream though) and the plastic wrap. 

Working quickly spread the meringue over the ice cream then using a kitchen torch brown the meringue. Serve immediately. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings.