May 31st, 2010
When I woke up this morning, (very early) with my little girl, she requested we make something really special for the dinner guests that we are having tonight. I tried to think of something that people having Memorial Day parties could make a splash with and that kids would love. I came up with Baked Alaska! I have not had it in decades! But I have a wonderful memory of my mom making one for my older brothers 13th birthday. It was tall and towering and the whole thing was on fire! It could not have been more wonderful!
This version is made with a fluffy vanilla meringue, strawberry cake, (we just doctored a vanilla cake mix for the sake of time) and two types of pink (Pia’s choice!) ice cream- strawberry ice cream and raspberry sorbet. I recommend using premium quality of both because it freezes harder than the cheaper stuff. It is a real showstopper, and a lovely, sweet dessert everyone will be excited about.
Baked Alaska, (serves 12)
1 vanilla cake mix
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
(*This will make two 9” cakes, and you only need 1, so you can save the other half or bake them into cupcakes.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the first 4 cake ingredients together until the batter is smooth. Fold in the strawberries.
Spray a 9” pan with baking spray and empty half the batter into the pan. Bake the cake for 20 minutes and then pull the cake out and let it cool.
3 pints raspberry sorbet, softened
1 quart strawberry ice cream, softened
(Or whatever sorbet and ice cream sounds good to you!)
6 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
I used a stainless steel bowl that was 9” in diameter, and I think around 4 quarts. Line the bowl with long sheets of plastic wrap.
First empty the softened strawberry ice cream into the bottom of the lined bowl, smoothing it with a rubber spatula. Then empty the sorbet over the ice cream, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula. Place the 9” cake round over the sorbet. Put the bowl, with the cake on top back in the freezer. You must freeze it for a minimum of 4 hours, but could even make it the day before and freeze it over night.
When the cake and ice cream are frozen hard, make the meringue.
In a very clean mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites. Whisk them on high until they are very thick and white and stiff. Then empty in the sugar a Tablespoon or two at a time, whisking until the meringue is shiny and white. I like to add a tsp of vanilla paste, which adds the vanilla flavor, but also the beautiful little vanilla seeds to the white meringue.
I take the frozen cake and ice cream from the freezer, and turn it back into the 9” cake pan that it was originally baked in. then pull the ends of the plastic wrap, and the frozen cake and ice cream should pop from the bowl, leaving a frozen dome. Spread the meringue all over the cake and ice cream with a spatula, and then place the whole thing back in the freezer. It needs to freeze for at least an hour, but you could freeze it over night with the meringue on it.
I love lighting sweets on fire as much as the next person! But this is a more tame and child friendly technique, (as well as a more realistic when you have a bunch of guests over.) Preheat the oven to broil. When the oven is hot, take the cake out of the freezer, and place the baking pan it is in on a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan with the baked Alaska in the oven on broil. It will just take about 3-5 minutes, while the meringue turns a beautiful golden brown. Immediately slice and serve.