Photos: Vic Chin, Video: Vic Chin and Peter Ruocco
Baked Alaska was reportedly created in the mid-1800s by a chef in New York City to celebrate Alaska becoming a state. Baked Alaska is an extremely impressive dessert although, in reality, it isn’t difficult to make. You can use any combination of cake and ice cream or sorbet. Just remember the meringue is sweet so don’t use any overly sugared cake recipes or very sweet ice cream. My favorite pairing is chocolate and coffee.
I like making individual Baked Alaska for Christmas. They can be completed ahead and kept frozen until the last minute...perfect for keeping your sanity in the craziness of the holidays. Plus, my family loves the drama of watching the torching of the meringue! Find a butane torch at your local hardware store just like the one your contractor would use. They are not expensive and last a long time, and they are super-efficient and fun to use. Alternately, smaller torches are available at cookware shops.
Let the party begin!
Makes 6 servings
- 6 large chocolate brownies or cookies
- 6 scoops coffee ice cream
- ½ cup egg whites (about 4)
- 1 cup sugar
- Place brownies or cookies on a cookie sheet. Place a scoop of ice cream on top making sure to leave ¼ inch edge between the edge of the cookie and the ice cream. Put in the freezer and freeze until hard before proceeding.
- In a stainless-steel bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar until combined. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly but lightly until the egg whites are bath water hot, about 100 ℉. You are not trying to get volume in the whites, only dissolving the sugar and keeping them from cooking.
- Transfer the whites to the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and the whites have cooled to room temperature.
- Remove the cakes from the freezer. Using a small spatula or piping bag, spread or pipe the meringue over the ice cream, completely covering it but making sure the meringue sits on the cake and doesn’t come over the edge onto the cookie sheet. If desired, this can be done several hours in advance. Do not cover. Keep frozen until ready to serve.
- Using a butane torch, constantly move the flame over the meringue about 1 inch from the surface of the meringue until lightly browned. Serve immediately.