Oh HEY GUYS! I decided to make a triumphant return to the blog because I baked a very retro and delicious dessert yesterday and got very excited about it. It has opened a whole new world of dessert possibilities! Ahhh, I feel so alive.
I was inspired to make a baked Alaska because I went to Anchorage a few weeks ago to see friends and run a half marathon. It was wonderful! And I got exactly 1200th place in the race, thank you for asking! I checked in first with my old-school BH&G cookbook. It always knows what’s what.
This is more of a concept than it is a recipe, I think, because really all you need for baked Alaska is some kind of cake, ice cream on top, and meringue covering the whole thing so it looks like a majestic, snow-covered Alaskan mountain-top. This is why it has opened a whole new world of dessert possibilities–think of all the mixing and matching! Chocolate cake with mint-chip ice cream, lemon cake with strawberry ice cream, etc. etc. For the first trial, I did coconut cake and vanilla ice cream, because those are the favorites of my sister-in-law, who just turned forty (and fab) and deserved a fancy-schmancy birthday dessert.
First, I smushed the ice cream into a foil-lined, 9-inch round cake pan, and put it in the freezer to harden up.
Then I baked a 9-inch round coconut cake, using a Barefoot Contessa recipe (OBviously). When it had cooled off, I put it on the base of my tart pan and slid pieces of parchment paper under it so the base wouldn’t get all messy when I spread the meringue over the whole thing. The slice off the top is so the cake would have an even surface, and also because I wanted a snack.
When it was time for dessert, I made the meringue, centered the ice cream layer on top of the cake, and “frosted” the whole thing with the meringue. Then, I put it in a 500 degree oven for three minutes. (I know it sounds insane to put ice cream in a 500 degree oven, but if you seal everything up with the meringue on the outside, it’s A-OK.)
Voila–slice, sprinkles, serve!
As I said, there is plenty of room for innovation here, but I’ll type out the recipe and process I used. The BH&G cookbook said to sprinkle sugar over the meringue before baking, and I forgot to do that. I also saw a recipe that called for sprinkling the whole thing with crushed peppermints, and you should probably try that because it sounds very ooh-la-la.
Baked Alaska (cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s coconut cake)
- ice cream of choice, softened slightly (I used about 2/3 of a quart of vanilla)
- 3/4 c. butter, at room temperature (1.5 sticks)
- 1 c. sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. milk
- 2 oz. shredded sweetened coconut
- 5 egg whites (I think having them at room temperature helps)
- 2/3 c. sugar
Press the ice cream into a foil-lined, 9-inch round cake pan, and place in the freezer until ready to assemble. To make the cake: cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the 3 eggs one at a time, mixing to thoroughly combine after each one. Add the extracts and mix them in. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl. (Ina says to sift these, but I’m usually too lazy to sift.) Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternately with the milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients. When everything is combined, fold in the shredded coconut, and pour the batter into a greased and floured 9-inch round cake pan. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. (You stick a toothpick in it, the toothpick comes out clean.) Once the pan is cool enough to handle, turn the cake out to finish cooling on a rack. Separate 5 egg whites into a large bowl and set them aside until you’re ready to assemble.
When it’s dessert time: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Using an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Then, while continuing to run the mixer on high, gradually add the 2/3 c. sugar and mix until stiff peaks form. Center the cake on whatever you’re going to bake it and serve it on (the best thing I could find was my tart pan base, which is a 10-inch round), and slide pieces of parchment paper underneath the cake to keep the base from getting all messy with meringue. Turn the ice cream layer out of the foil-lined pan onto the cake and peel off the foil. Cover the cake and ice cream layers with the meringue, making sure to cover/seal it completely at the bottom after you pull out the pieces of parchment paper. Bake for 3 minutes, or until the meringue is just lightly browned, at 500 degrees. Slice and serve ASAP. Add sprinkles, unless you hate fun or something. Serve and enjoy!