Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, the rich and visually impressive dessert, baked Alaska was all the rage at fancy dinner parties and luxurious cruise ship voyages. Disco, shoulder pads, and baked Alaska…ah, I can almost hear Barry White playing over the blue eye shadow and flashy colors.
But I digress…
Like many things in pop culture, baked Alaska had its day in the sun and for whatever reason, it went out of style. The trend may have come to an end, but if you’re like me, the craving for layers of texture and the warm toasting of the flame never left.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d resurrect this throwback dessert for my sweetie and yours too. My recipe makes individual servings so that you only make the perfect amount (is anyone still following their New Year’s resolutions? Individual treats will help if weight loss is your goal.) This is the perfect way to end a fancy dinner where love is served hot and the champagne is cold.
If you don’t quite remember the 70’s and 80’s as well as I do, or you weren’t there, you may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about…
Baked Alaska layers moist cake with decadently rich ice cream, then topped with a sweet marshmallow-like meringue. Set it all a flame (just like your hot burning love) and you’re left with a most awe-striking, toasted billowy mound of pure eroticism.
Whew, please pause while I fan myself…
These towering beauties are fun to make and can be prepped a couple days ahead of the big meal. If you’re going to get started early, you’ll want a bullet-proof meringue that can hold in the freezer for an hour. Otherwise, you can apply the meringue on the day you’re serving.
The best part is, this is bound to win you some extra V-Day points, so get ready, it’s going to be a hot night.
- 7” serrated utility knife
- 3-4”round cookie or biscuit cutter (one that fits the width of your cake)
- Cutting shears
- Wax paper
- Small sheet pan
- Non-stick aluminum foil
- 2 medium mixing bowls
- 2-3 quart sauce pan
- Measuring cups
- Wire whisk
- Standing mixer with wire whip
- Rubber spatula
- Large Star Piping Tip *
- Large Piping Bag *
- Hand-held butane torch
- 1 lb. ready-made French blueberry loaf pound cake
- 1 pint ice cream *
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 ½ C sugar
- Caramel sauce
Chef Gerrie’s Notes:
* Ice cream: I am a big fan of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, but get whatever type and flavor hikes your skirt. Here I’m using Jeni’s Matterhorn flavor which is made with wildflower honey, white chocolate flakes, and smoked almonds for a warm rich finish.
* Piping tip and bag: Disposable bags are great to use if you don’t have a trusty one at home. If you can’t find these tools, the back of a teaspoon can still give you a final look of intrigue. Make it your own!
- Slice pound cake into 6-8 equal sizes – about ½ – ¾” slices.
- Cut a circle out of each slice of cake using the round cookie or biscuit cutter. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble.
- Take the ice cream out of its tub by first removing the lid and then, using your cutting shears, cut down the rim to the base. Gently pull the tub from the ice cream and release onto wax paper.
- Quickly freeze the ice cream being careful to maintain its shape. Wrap it in the wax paper and freeze until firm.
- Slice ice cream into 4-6 slices and then, using the round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut a circle out of each slice of ice cream. Place the circles on wax paper and return to the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or until ice cream is very firm.Depending on how hot your kitchen is, you may need to freeze the ice cream in between slicing it and cutting it into circles.
- Assemble the baked Alaska on a small inverted sheet pan covered with non-stick aluminum foil. The layers will start wit a round of cake, then ice cream, then cake, ice cream, and one more round of cake to top – 3 layers of cake between two layers of ice cream. Put back in the freezer to set.If you’re making these ahead of time, you can cover with plastic wrap and hold in the freezer for 2-3 days.
- Prepare for the meringue by setting up double boiler. Fit a mixing bowl so that it’s nested over a sauce pot of simmering water. You want enough room below the bowl so the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Make my bullet-proof meringue (which will stand up to anything) by whisking egg whites and sugar together in the bowl over simmering water. Continue to whisk and pull the whites up to see the stages of the sugar dissolving. It will look opaque at first, then become more translucent as the sugar dissolves into the egg whites.
Test the consistency with your first finger and thumb: Take a little bit of the sugar and egg whites and rub lightly to feel how granular the sugar is. You will want to try this a few times, especially in the beginning, so you can feel how the larger sugar granular dissolves and becomes smooth and less granular.
- Beat the sugar and egg whites in a standing mixer with a wire whip for at least 5-8 min on high, or until very firm peaks stand up at attention. There’s your bullet-proof meringue!
- Fill piping bag with meringue and a large fluted star tip.
- Remove cakes from freezer.
- Pipe meringue onto the cakes starting at the center top, down the side, to the base. Repeat and continue around the baked Alaska. Top the center with a swirl to cover the union of piping strips.I recommend a couple practice pipes before you get going on the cakes – just to be sure you’re ready.
- Torch the Alaska to a golden brown using a butane torch (which are great to have in your kitchen arsenal). Be careful not to burn the meringue! Make small circular motions or patterns over the top and sides of the cake. Place back in freezer.
- Decorate your serving plate with caramel sauce that compliments the flavors in your baked Alaska. I’m using salted caramel here. Make the design however you want and be creative.
- Carefully plate the baked Alaska on top of the decorated plate and serve.