Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Baked Alaska

A showstopping Baked Alaska is easier to make than you think! Take shortcuts by using store-bought ice cream and cupcakes. This beautifully torched dessert will be the talk of your next party!

My husband's birthday was last month. Our birthday tradition is that the person of honor gets to choose whatever dessert they want, and I will make my best attempt to create it. My husband has been talked about baked Alaska for years... even though neither of us has actually tried it before. Something about the ice cream encased in a torched meringue just seemed to intrigue him.

When I brought home a copy of Baked Occasions from the library, my husband immediately said that this was the dessert that he wanted me to make. I read the instructions, and it didn't look too intimidating. I could use store-bought ice cream and cupcakes to make it even easier and fuss-free. But why? I decided to make my own cupcakes and two different flavors of ice cream for a 100% homemade version.

For whatever reason, I had a difficult time assembling my Alaskas. My chocolate ice cream was on the melty side, so no matter how quickly I worked to stack the cupcake halves on top of the ice cream, a puddle of chocolate would be gathering at the side almost immediately. And when I tried slathering the meringue on top, the same thing would happen.

Even though my Alaskas weren't the prettiest things ever, they were super tasty. I expected the meringue to be crunchier after being in the freezer, but they were still soft and fluffy.

Both Addie and my husband loved this dessert and were thrilled when I told them that this recipe made 12 of them. Since you'll have a dozen of these beauties, these Alaskas are a great dessert if you host a dinner party and want to wow your guests. Or, if you have a dessert-loving family, feel free to eat them over a course of a few days!

Baked Alaska
  • 1 pint ice cream of choice, slightly softened (I made Jeni's milkiest chocolate
  • 1 pint ice cream of choice, slightly softened (I made cookies and cream)
  • 12 unglazed, unfrosted chocolate cupcakes (I made half a batch of these)
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
Put 1-2 large pieces of plastic wrap on top of a standard muffin pan. Make sure you press the plastic wrap all the way into the muffin wells. Don't worry if it's not perfect - you just want to make sure the bottoms and sides of the muffin wells are covered in plastic wrap.

Equally divide the first ice cream flavor into your 12 muffin wells. Use your hands to initially smooth out the ice cream. Then you can switch to a spoon and use the back side of it to even out the tops. Loosely cover the muffin pan with another layer of plastic wrap. Place this in the freezer for 1 hour.

Cut the cupcakes in half horizontally. Take off the top layer of plastic wrap from the muffin pan. Place the bottom half of the cupcake, cut side up, on top of the layer of ice cream. Press the cupcake down so it's packed in there good. Cover again and freeze for another 20 minutes. Then remove the second ice cream flavor to allow it to soften.

Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and take off the layer of plastic again. Even distribute the ice cream and repeat the same process as before - pack down the ice cream with your hands or the back of a spoon. Add the top half of the cupcake, smush it down and cover the muffin pan and freeze for another 5 hours or overnight.

Release the Alaskas by inverting the pan and by gently removing the plastic wrap. Place 6 Alaskas on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other 6 Alaskas. Freeze for another 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg whites and sugar by hand until combined. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the egg white mixture reaches 140 degrees F.

Beat the egg white mixture in the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer) on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add the cream of tartar. Once the egg whites reach stiff peaks, add the vanilla. Beat for another 3 minutes on high speed.

Working very quickly, remove 6 of the Alaskas from the freezer. Cover the Alaskas completely in the meringue, making sure that no part of the ice cream/cupcake is showing through. Repeat with the remaining Alaskas. Freeze for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

To finish the Alaskas, you can bake in the oven or use a kitchen torch. To bake, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Take 6 Alaskas and place it in the oven and bake for 1-3 minutes or until the tops are torched. Do not bake more than 6 at a time. Repeat with the remaining Alaskas.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 servings

Source: Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

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