Today celebrates the dessert, Baked Alaska. It was created in 1868 by a famous chef in New York City, Charles Ranhofer of Delmonicos, who was notorious for naming dishes after celebrities and current events. His inspiration for this particular dessert was led by the heated debate over the purchase of land from Russia that became the state of Alaska.
While it appears elaborate, it’s actually a fairly simple dessert. The traditional components are hard ice cream on a base of sponge cake which is then covered in a toasted meringue shell. But toss tradition aside! You can use ice cream, sorbet, or frozen yogurt with cake, cookies, or brownies. And the meringue can be toasted in the oven at a high temperature ( almost broiling, but not quite) or with the help of a culinary blow torch.
It can be assembled at your own pace. The only part you really need to work quickly at is coating the ice cream with the meringue and baking or toasting it immediately. My version is pretty basic, vanilla bean ice cream and dark chocolate brownie combination. So, I’m not including a recipe today because I think this dessert is better explained (hopefully) with pictures of the steps. So give it a try and let me know what you think.
Step 1 – line a bowl with plastic wrap and scoop slightly softened ice cream into the bowl. Pack down and smooth the top. Then place filled bowls in freezer on cookie sheet to harden.
Step 2 – bake cake or cookies. Allow to cool slightly and cut out the base for the ice cream using same size bowl. Take hardened ice cream out of freezer and allow to warm just enough to unmold and remove ice cream from bowls. Top cake or cookie base with ice cream and send back to freezer on a cookie sheet to hardened again.
Step 3 – preheat oven to 500 degrees. While oven is heating make the meringue. Combine 4 egg whites room temperature with a pinch of salt and a pinch of cream of tartar. Whisk in a stand mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Then slowly add a cup of granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s all mixed in and stiff peaks form.
Step 4 – remove ice cream from freezer. Take off plastic wrap. Quickly coat ENTIRE surface of dessert with meringue. Place in oven for 2 minutes at 500 degrees or toast the meringue with a culinary blow torch. Return dessert to freezer to hardened one final time. Eat and enjoy ♥️