you don't know, Baked Alaska is a cake layer topped by
a layer of ice cream; this is then thickly covered with
meringue, lightly browned in a very hot oven for a few
minutes, then served immediately. This dessert is just
plain fun. Great for a party or celebration, it requires
both advance preparation and some last-minute work. As
you might expect, you cannot keep Baked Alaska for any
length of time after baking. If your immune system isn't
up to scratch, please think twice about making this, as
the meringue isn't fully baked. For the ice cream, I can
personally recommend Starbucks Java Chip; you can also
use a good sorbet (Sharon's Coconut is wonderful here).
Use whatever you like, but note that the pretty effect
of an ice cream with a swirl in it will not show up in
the finished dessert. The sauce is optional here, but
you can make it up to five days ahead; store it, tightly
covered, at room temperature. Make the cake and the ice
cream layer a day ahead. If you like (and if you can work
quickly), once the Baked Alaska is removed from the oven,
you can stick candles through the meringue into the ice
cream, then light them--this looks very festive!
- 9 ounces good-quality
bittersweet chocolate (semisweet chocolate can be
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened
Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp.
- 2 Tbsp. light corn
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter,
cut into thin pats
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp.
- 1/3 cup unsweetened
Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 1 egg, graded "large",
beaten to mix
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Optional Layer: (if
your ice cream/sorbet selection goes with raspberry)
- 3 pints good-quality
ice cream or sorbet (use a flavor that goes with chocolate
- 1/4 cup good-quality
seedless raspberry jam, stirred to mix
- 4 egg whites, from
eggs graded "large", at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. cream of
- 1/3 cup granulated
- 1/3 cup firmly packed
dark brown sugar
Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Set
bowl over simmering water on low heat (water should not
touch bottom of bowl). Stir often until melted and smooth.
Remove bowl from heat and hot water. Sift cocoa powder
into melted chocolate; briskly whisk in until most lumps
are dissolved. Set aside near stove.
heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, sugar, light corn
syrup, and salt. Place over medium-high heat and stir
constantly to dissolve sugar. When sugar is completely
dissolved, stir occasionally until mixture comes to a
boil. Remove from heat.
one-quarter of the hot syrup to the melted chocolate.
Whisk in thoroughly (the chocolate will seize, clump,
and look awful initially--just keep working at it). When
the hot syrup has been completely incorporated, scrape
bowl bottom and sides. Whisk in another quarter of the
hot syrup. Gradually add remaining syrup, whisking in.
This sauce will be very thin when completed, but it will
thicken considerably upon standing. Cool completely, then
cover tightly and store at room temperature. Note: if
you cannot get the sauce smooth, you may have added too
much syrup initially. Turn the completed sauce into a
food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process
just until smooth.
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees
F. Grease a 9 inch layer pan (the pan MUST be at least
1-3/4 inches deep), line the bottom with a round of parchment
or wax paper cut to fit, grease the paper, and dust the
inside of the pan lightly with flour, knocking out any
excess. Set pan aside.
heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, combine buttermilk
and butter pats. Place over medium heat; stir often just
until butter melts. Remove from heat and set aside to
cool for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together flour,
sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into medium
bowl. Set aside.
mixture has cooled 15 minutes, add beaten egg and vanilla.
With fork, beat to mix well. Add all at once to sifted
dry ingredients. With whisk, stir until dry ingredients
are moistened, then beat briskly until smooth (a few small
lumps are OK). Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared
pan. Tilt pan to run batter up sides slightly. From a
height of about 3 inches, drop pan three times onto a
flat surface or tabletop.
Bake in preheated
oven 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in
center emerges with a few moist crumbs still clinging
to it. Do not overbake. Remove to cooling rack.
Cool 10 to
15 minutes. Loosen cake from edges of pan, then invert
onto cooling rack. Gently pull wax paper round from bottom.
Re-invert and cool completely, right side up. When completely
cooled, level top if necessary (I've never had to do any
levelling with this cake, but different ovens give different
results). Wrap airtight; store overnight at room temperature.
Cream: Line an 8 inch by 2 inch deep round layer pan
with two crisscrossed sheets of plastic wrap, leaving
substantial overhang on all sides and smoothing the plastic
wrap in the pan as much as possible. Have space ready
in your freezer to accomodate your pan.
cream one pint container at a time. Remove carton lid
and liner (if any). Microwave at 50% (medium) power just
until your ice cream is softened. Be careful--the ice
cream must not melt much (a bit of melting around the
carton edges is OK). Working quickly, place large spoonfuls
of the softened ice cream into the prepared pan. Repeat
with other cartons. Use the back of a clean large spoon
to compact the softened ice cream into as even a layer
as possible (you can start to do this while softening
the remaining ice cream). Again, work quickly! When ice
cream layer is as even as possible (pan will be very full),
place pan in freezer. Don't worry if you can't get the
ice cream layer perfectly level on top, you won't notice
in the finished dessert. After two hours, cover the ice
cream layer with the plastic wrap overhang, then with
another piece of plastic wrap. Freeze at least overnight.
About 1-1/4 hours before you want to serve the Baked Alaska,
get your egg whites out of the refrigerator and let stand,
covered, at room temperature in a medium, very clean,
non-plastic bowl. Make sure your beaters are spotlessly
clean and dry. Measure out both sugars for the meringue;
stir together well in a small bowl, pressing out as many
lumps as possible. Cover and set aside. Adjust oven rack
to one-third up from bottom of oven. Have ready two large
baking sheets, one lined with foil and one empty. Place
the foil-lined sheet on top of the empty sheet (you'll
bake this on a doubled cookie sheet). Place the cake layer,
still in wrappings, in the freezer. If you're going to
use the raspberry jam, have it measured out and stirred;
store it, covered, in the refrigerator. If you'll be using
candles, have them (and matches) at the ready. Have ready
large plates for serving, as well as serving utensils
(I use a large, sturdy, plastic spatula to cut and serve
this) and forks. If you've made the optional sauce, check
the consistency. If it's very thick, stir well, adding
hot water a little at a time, until sauce is just a little
thicker than unwhipped heavy cream. Pour sauce into a
small pitcher; cover and set aside at room temperature.
All of this is done so you can assemble and serve the
dessert with a minimum of last-minute fuss.
twenty minutes before you want to bake this, preheat the
oven to 475 degrees F. About 10 minutes before you want
to bake the dessert, remove the cake layer from the freezer.
Remove the wrappings, and place the cold (it won't be
frozen-OK) cake layer right side up on the foil-lined
baking sheet. If using the raspberry jam, place by spoonfuls
on top of the cake and spread into a thin layer, leaving
about a 1 inch margin of plain cake at the edges.
cream of tartar into the egg whites. Beat whites at low
speed to incorporate it, then increase speed to high and
beat until white and very foamy. Begin adding combined
sugars, about two tablespoons at a time, beating after
each addition until incorporated. After last addition,
beat until meringue stands in stiff peaks; this will be
a thick meringue. If there are a few very small lumps
of brown sugar in the finished meringue, don't worry about
them. Do not remove beaters from mixer yet.
cream layer from freezer. Remove top piece of plastic
wrap, and peel back other plastic wrap from top surface
only. Working quickly and a few inches above the cake
layer, turn pan with ice cream upside down; allow ice
cream, still in plastic wrap, to slide out of pan onto
top of cake layer. Center if required. Set pan aside,
and quickly remove remaining plastic wrap from ice cream.
meringue; beat it at high speed for just a few seconds.
Now, WORK FAST!!! By large spoonfuls, transfer about half
the meringue to the top of the ice cream layer. With a
flat knife or offset spatula, work the meringue down the
sides of the ice cream and cake layers, going right down
to the foil of the baking sheet. Transfer remaining meringue
to top of ice cream layer, and make certain all of cake
and ice cream layers are entirely and thickly covered
with meringue. I spread the top of the meringue flat and
have the sides straight, but the main thing here is to
work quickly. Place the dessert immediately (still on
the doubled baking sheet) into the very hot oven for 3
to 5 minutes, or just until the meringue is lightly browned.
Remove from oven. If desired, place candles on top of
cake, sticking through meringue layer into ice cream layer.
Light candles. Using pot holders (this will be heavy and
hot), carry dessert quickly to wherever you'll serve it.
Slice and serve IMMEDIATELY!! Pass optional sauce for
everyone to pour on as they wish.
10 to 12
Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone,
but retains copyright on all text. This means that you
may not: distribute the text to others without the express
written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror"
or include this information on your own server or documents
without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this
system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your
own personal use; store the files on your own computer
for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents
on this server from your own documents.