Introduction: Easy Baked Alaska
Baked Alaska is a clever combination of 3 basic desserts: cake, ice cream, and meringue. And you don't have to churn your own ice cream or bake your own cake to enjoy it. It's great for impressing friends at birthday parties, easy to make, and even quite a bit of fun.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
The ingredients are quite simple:
- A cake
- A tub of ice cream
- A recipe of meringue (basically just egg whites)
Try to find a cake that is roughly the same shape as your ice cream. Usually the supermarkets do a nice 8"x8" sponge, but I found this round one on special and thought I'd give it a go. Trimming is allowed, just so long as the ice cream fits entirely on the cake.
The ice cream can be anything you want, I suggest a chocolate based ice cream your first time, it's easier to distinguish from the egg whites when you're frosting it.
The meringue is pretty striaghtforward, I actually use my mother in law's famous pavlova recipe, it works a treat. Use about 5-6 eggs depending on their size if you're going with a 2L ice cream. I also find that organic eggs make the easiest meringue.
Step 2: Some Assembly Required
Get your cake ready for the ice cream, make sure there's something underneath it so you can move it easily to/from freezer/oven.
Plonk your ice cream down on top of the cake and lift off the container.
Next, trim the sides if necessary, and slip the whole thing into the freezer while you prepare the meringue. If you're just using a sponge cake, it may pay to let it freeze for a few hours to harden up. But you can use brownies or something harder as well, and in that case keep the freezing time under an hour, otherwise nobody will be able to bite through the brownie ice block.
Step 3: Whip It
Whip up your meringue, adding your sugar, cream of tartar, etc. Whatever tickles your fancy.
When you've got some good stiff, glossy peaks going, get the lot out of the freezer and slather it. The egg whites act as insulation between the hot of the oven and the cold of the ice cream.
If you're feeling fancy, flash it up a little with some cake decorations, or just dust it with some powdered sugar. Now store it in the freezer until about 10 minutes before it's meant to be served.
Step 4: Get Baked
Despite it being called Baked Alaska, there are actually a few different ways of setting the meringue. The traditional method in the oven is always a winner, just be careful not to leave it in there too long. About 5 minutes is all it can take. If you see ice cream leaking out the bottom, or it starting to slump at the ice cream / cake line, get it out ASAP.
Another way you can go is with creme brule style with a blowtorch. I like to supplement the baking with this, since it's mostly just the top that gets baked anyway.
For those out there with a flare for the dramatic, you can also flambe it. You'll need something at least 80-100 proof, and make sure you turn out the lights, it looks way cooler that way.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Perhaps the most important step of all: eating the Baked Alaska. This is all that was left after one sitting during a meeting at my work, it goes fast!