Baked Alaska

This is my first month as an official Daring Baker. The Daring Kitchen runs a monthly baking challenge, a fun way to challenge yourself to new recipes and get inspired by all the variations and delicious photos of other peoples baking creations.

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Wow! The browned butter was totally new to me and so was ice cream making! This first challenge had me more than a little intimidated. Never-the-less, I followed the recipes and actually had a lot of fun – especially making the ice cream and then torching the meringue on my first ever Baked Alaska. Isn’t it gorgeous!? :
Baked Alaska

Because this challenge had two parts to make – the cake and the ice cream I’m just gonna describe the ice cream and the final assembly here. I’ll write more about browned butter pound cake soon along with the recipe and another way to dress it up! For now, lets talk about ice cream…

One of my favorite things to eat but something I’ve never made myself. I always thought it would be too tricky and time consuming to make without an ice cream machine. To be quite honest, it was very time consuming yes. But the final product was so good I don’t resent the time it took and I’m glad I was challenged to try it at least once. One day when I have my own ice cream machine I’d love to experiment with some other flavours – cherry and almond, maple walnut, boysenberry, rocky road… There are so many possibilities!

The ice cream recipe starts with making a basic custard using milk, sugar and egg yolks. I added 2 big teaspoons of instant coffee to my custard mixture as well as some vanilla extract. This custard is then stirred into a whole lot of heavy cream and chilled before starting the freezing process.
coffee custard and cream

Without an ice cream machine you need to freeze the custard mixture for short intervals and repeatedly taking it out to give it a good stir up. I used a spoon to scrape the hardened edges in and a hand-held stick blender to blend it smoothly each time.

After 2 or 3 hours the ice cream was nicely frozen. Mid way through this freezing process I melted some dark chocolate, drizzled it over the ice cream and stirred it in to create little chips of chocolate in my coffee ice cream.
adding chocolate

Coffee Stracciatella Ice Cream – delicious!
I put some of the finished ice cream into half-cup silicone molds and froze them to use on my lil’ baked alaskas.

Vanilla Ice cream

Recipe is by David Lebovitz here.

  • 1 cup milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • A few drops of vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk with the tip of a paring knife. Add the bean pod to the milk. If you don’t have a vanilla pod you can use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.

Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the saucepan until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir as it cools. Chill for a few hours or overnight, then remove the vanilla bean pod and commence the freezing process, either in your ice cream maker or using the gradual freezing process outlined here: How to make ice cream without a machine.

Basic Meringue

To make the baked alaska you also need meringue. To cover two 8cm round alaskas I made 2 eggs whites worth of meringue.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. You’ll know you’ve beaten it long enough when it looks glossy and the meringue stays in place even if you turn the bowl upside down.

Baked Alaska

To assemble these little puffy desserts I placed a mound of ice cream on top of a round of cake then piped meringue all over until the cake and ice cream were completely covered. Like a big fluffy pineapple cloud hehe!
piping meringue

They need to go back in the freezer for an hour or so now to make sure the ice cream is good and cold. Then when you’re ready for dessert, torch the outside with a brulee torch and serve. This part was so much fun and the finished desserts looked and smelled like giant toasted marshmallows!!!
torching the meringue
cake, ice cream and meringue

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