Adventures in (Baked) Alaska
It’s one thing to make baked Alaska for six people. It’s another to make baked Alaska for 106.
A baked Alaska is a scrumptious dessert made in three parts. The base is a layer of cake, usually chocolate. Then there is layer of ice cream. The dessert is then covered with meringue and baked in a hot oven just long enough to brown the meringue. The meringue insulates the ice cream to keep it from melting.
We were committed to serving baked Alaska in our store all day long. But baked Alaska doesn’t keep well once baked so making a batch in the morning and another in the afternoon wasn’t going to work. We needed to make smaller. Furthermore, we wanted to use a brownie base, not the traditional cake base, and we wanted to serve individual desserts, not slices of one dessert.
In this article, we’ll first show you how to make a traditional baked Alaska using either a cake or brownie base and then individual baked Alaska desserts.
Since a baked Alaska is an ice cream dessert that is baked, it intrigues people. It’s beautiful and impressive and it’s simple to make.
Traditional Baked Alaska
The baked Alaska at the right is made with a layer of cake for a base not with brownie as described in the recipe. If you prefer, you can use a sheet cake about 1 1/2 inches thick and cut to size.
For our project, we used a layer of brownie using our Uncle Bob’s Extra Moist Brownie Mix. We could also have used any of our blondie mixes such as Raspberry White Chocolate Blondies and Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies.
Baker’s note: We made a cherry chocolate amaretto baked Alaska that was a real hit. It was made with a brownie base, cherry jubilee ice cream, and a meringue with amaretto flavor added.
For a successful baked Alaska, start with rock hard ice cream and don’t get it too big. If your baked Alaska large, it’s unwieldy and hard to slice and serve. For a party, it’s better to build several small desserts than
one large. Remember that you’ll add about an inch of meringue on all sides to your cake and ice cream interior.
5 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavor
3/4 cup granulated sugar
several drops food coloring (optional)
1 4 x 6-inch brownie
1 brick of ice cream approx. 3" x 5" x 4"
The ice cream and the cake can be any flavors of your choosing. You can tint the egg whites with food coloring and add any flavor of your choosing.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add the cream of tartar and the flavor. Beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Drizzle in the sugar while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Lay the brownie on an oven-proof platter. Cut the ice cream into blocks and stack them on the cake.
- With a spatula, spread the meringue on the cake and ice cream, completely sealing both from the heat. The meringue will act as insulation from the heat. Any thin areas in the meringue will allow heat to seep through.
- Bake for two minutes or until the meringue starts to brown. Slice and serve immediately or return to the freezer to serve later.
Baker’s note: You will need to get your brownie or sheet cake out of the pan without it breaking. Lining the pan with parchment paper and then lifting the brownie or cake from the pan by grasping the edges of the parchment paper is the easiest way to do so. If you need to trim the top of the cake to create an even, flat layer, you can do so with a serrated knife held horizontally.
Individual Baked Alaska Desserts
Our goal was to make individual desserts, to make the components ahead of time, and then assemble and prepare them in small batches.
To do likewise, follow these steps:
- Make individual brownies from a mix.
- Place two-inch scoops of ice cream onto a cutting board and store the scoops in the freezer.
- When it is time to assemble the desserts, place brownies on separate plates.
- Place ice cream balls on top of the brownies.
- Cover the stack with meringue.
- Either place the plates in the oven under the broiler or brown the meringue with a kitchen torch. Either way, it will only take a couple minutes.
We used an Uncle Bob’s Extra Moist Brownie Mix and baked the brownies in paper liners in a standard muffin tin. (We could also have used any of our blondie mixes such as Raspberry White Chocolate Blondies and Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies.) One mix made 18 brownies. To make fewer desserts, save some of the brownies and reduce the amount of meringue in the recipe.
1 Uncle Bob’s Extra Moist Brownie Mix or equal.
10 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla or other flavor
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
several drops of food coloring (optional)
a 1.75 quart brick of ice cream to make 18 large scoops
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the 18 cavities in standard muffin pans with paper liners.
- To make the brownies follow the package directions but divide the batter between the 18 paper liners. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Do not over bake. Once baked, remove the brownies to a wire rack to cool. Remove the paper liners. Baker’s note: The brownies should be completely cooled. We chilled our brownies in the refrigerator before assembly. Do not freeze them.
- With a large ice cream scoop, place a scoop of ice cream on a cutting board or parchment lined pan for each brownie. Place the pan in the freezer until the ice cream is rock hard.
- To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add the cream of tartar and the vanilla. Beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Drizzle in the sugar while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Assemble the deserts by stacking a scoop of ice cream on a brownie on a dessert plate. Cover the assembly with meringue. Baker’s note: We used a large pastry bag and a star tip for a decorative presentation. Make sure that the dessert is completely covered with meringue so that heat does not seep through and melt the ice cream.
- Brown the meringue with a kitchen torch or place the deserts under the broiler set at 500 degrees for two minutes or until the meringue starts to brown. (Make certain that the plates are oven proof.) For best appearances, serve immediately.
Baked Alaska in a Cup
If you can whip an egg white, you can make these classy little desserts. They are quick and they are scrumptious.
graham crackers or chocolate cookies broken into chunks
2 egg large whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cover the bottoms of four ovenproof cups, glasses, or ramekins with cookie chunks to a depth of about 3/4 inch.
- Fill the cup with the ice cream of your choice. Use an ice cream spade to press the ice cream tight into the cup. Place the cups of ice cream in the freezer for at lest 30 minutes to get rock hard.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
- Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Drizzle in the sugar as you continue to beat. Add the vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form. The peaks should be stiff but not shiny. Do not over beat.
- Pile the meringue on top of the frozen ice cream. Completely cover the ice cream so that the ice cream is insulated from the heat. Repeat with the other three cups.
- Place the cups on a large baking sheet. (The baking sheet will help deflect heat from the bottoms of the cups.) Bake for 2 to 4 minutes or until the meringue has a nice golden hue. Serve hot.