Baked Alaska is a stunning showstopper for any special occasion or dinner party. Ice cream, cake and toasted meringue all in one. Easier to make than you think!
Special occasion requires a spectucular dessert! Bryan and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last month. It is hard to believe we have been together for this long! It felt like it all happened yesterday. We married young and early, but I have never regretted a moment. I am thankful to have someone like him in my life. To celebrate, I made this 3 layers Baked Alaska.
About 5 years ago, we went on a cruise to Alaska with my parents and my sister. One dinner in the dining hall, the lights were all turned off. The waiters walked out in a parade and each carried a flambe Baked Alaska (a cake covered with liquor and flame). It was so dramatic and awesome that I can see the scene in my head. Although no one can remember what it tasted, I knew we enjoyed it very much.
So what is a Baked Alaska? It is a dome-shaped ice cream cake covered with meringue. Right before serving, the cake is either being torched or baked in the oven briefly to create a golden brown color on the meringue. The meringue is acted as a barrier, so the ice cream wouldn’t melt in the process. It makes a beautiful showstopper for any dinner party or special occasion. The best thing is the leftover can be returned to freezer and kept for a week.
Baked Alaska may sound intimating to make, but it is in fact a lot easier than you think. The Baked Alaska can be divided into 3 parts, ice cream dome, cake bottom and meringue. Divide the work into 2 – 3 days, it will be easy breezy.
First part is the ice cream dome. I made a 3-layers version with 3 different flavors of ice cream, vanilla, chocolate and raspberry sorbet. There is no rule. You can go with 1, 2 or even 4 flavors. You can also arrange the ice cream to in any style, like swirl, checker or freestyle. But keep in mind, you may want to go for flavors that are less sweet or slightly tart, because the meringue is pretty sweet. Also, I recommend not to use homemade ice cream or something that melts too quickly. Haagen-Dazs is a good choice.
Second part is the cake. I baked a sheet of chocolate sponge cake. It is light but dense enough to keep the ice cream from melting too much. Chocolate cake is also less sweet, which is perfect with the ice cream and meringue. With all the leftover cake scraps, you can have an early cake party for yourself (I sure did ate all the scraps!).
The last part is the meringue. I went with a Swiss meringue. It is more stable and less grainy than a regular French meringue. Even though the egg whites need to be cook in a double boiler, the meringue can be done in less than 15 minutes. Once the meringue is ready, frost and decorate the cake. Keep the cake in the freezer until almost ready to serve. Bake in the oven for just 3 – 4 minutes until golden brown or use with a blowtorch.
Baked Alaska is a really stunning and tasty dessert. Bryan and I love the combination of dark chocolate cake, cold ice cream and the toasted meringue. All different kind of flavors and texture. So memorable and amazing! Although making a Baked Alaska requires a little bit of time and work, but the end result will sure make you and your guests happy. Enjoy!
Yield 8 small servings
- 4 ounces vanilla ice cream
- 7 ounces raspberry sorbet
- 10 ounces chocolate ice cream
- vegetable oil (for brushing)
Chocolate Sponge Cake:
- 2 ounces cake flour
- ½ ounce Dutch process cocoa powder
- 6 ounces sugar (divided)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 large eggs (yolks and whites separated)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- FOR THE ICE CREAM DOME: The day before, in medium round bowl that can fit about 3-cup of liquid, lightly brush the inside of the bowl with vegetable oil. Line the inside with a plastic wrap and make sure there is overhang. If needed, use 2 pieces of plastic wrap.
- Leave the vanilla ice cream at room temperature until slightly soften, about 15 – 30 minutes. Scoop desired amount into the bottom of the bowl. Smooth the top with a spatula. Transfer to freeze for at least 1 hour.
- Place the raspberry sorbet at room temperature until slightly soften, about 15 – 30 minutes. Scoop desired amount to the bowl on top of the vanilla ice cream. Smooth the top with a spatula. Freeze for another 1 hour.
- For the chocolate ice cream, leave at room temperature until slightly soften, about 15 – 30 minutes. Scoop desired amount and spread on top of the raspberry sorbet. Do not fill all the way to the top, leaving ½-inch space. Freeze for 1 more hour.
- FOR THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350˚F (177˚C). In a rimmed quarter sheet pan or 9 x 13 baking pan, lightly grease with vegetable oil. Line with parchment paper (including the sides) and lightly grease with vegetable oil again.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, 1/2 of the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together oil, water, and egg yolks. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk until just smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Turn on the speed to medium-high and whip for another minute. Slowly add the remaining sugar. Whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Mix 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture to loosen up. Fold in the rest of the whites gently until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 10 - 13 minutes, or until cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.
- Remove the cake from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert cake onto the wire rack. Remove the parchment paper carefully and reinvert cake onto a second wire rack. Let cool completely, at least 45 minutes.
- Transfer the cake to a cutting board. Cut and trim a round piece of cake to fit on top of the ice cream dome. Place the cake on top of the ice cream and push down gently. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 1 hour. Save the cake scraps for yourself.
- 4 hours before serving, unmold the ice cream cake, unwrap and flip onto a small baking sheet. Return to freezer.
- FOR THE MERINGUE: Prepare a double boiler. In a large pot with 1-inch water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
- In an electric mixer mixing bowl, add sugar and egg whites. Set over the simmering water. Whisk until mixture is very warm, about 4 minutes. Remove bowl. With an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat meringue at high speed until glossy and thick, about 2 – 4 minutes.
- ASSEMBLY: Take out the cake. Scoop a good cup of meringue on top of the cake. By moving quickly, spread the meringue evenly over to cover. Make sure the meringue reach the sponge cake and the ice cream is sealed inside, but it doesn’t have to touch the baking sheet. There should be at least ½-inch thick of meringue over the cake. Using the back of a spoon, create peaks and swirls. Return the cake to the freezer and freeze for at least 3 hours.
- TO SERVE: If you have a blowtorch, brown the meringue until golden brown. If you don’t have a blowtorch, do it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 500˚F (260˚C). Transfer the cake from freezer directly to oven. Bake until the meringue is deep brown in spots, about 3 – 4 minutes. Slice and serve.
- The size of the cake is pretty flexible. You can go with a bigger or smaller bowl depends on your crowd. The only thing you have to keep in mind is the size of the sponge cake and your freezer.
- You can pick any ice cream flavors. I would recommend going with something less sweet or slightly tart, like lemon sorbet, coffee and chocolate. It is because you want to balance out the sweet meringue.
- Do not use homemade ice cream. They tend to melt too quickly. Use good quality ice cream. I used Haagen-Dazs.
- The amount of ice cream in the recipe is a rough estimate. You may not need all of it. It all depends on the size and height of your bowl.
- To make the process easier and faster, you don’t have to do the ice cream layers. You can do freestyle or checker pattern. Do it all in one turn.
- I split the making of the cake into 2 days. The first day, I scoop the ice cream in the bowl. The second day, I made the sponge cake in the morning and worked on the meringue in the afternoon. I served the cake that night. Since the cake freeze really well, you can divide the works into a few days.
- I used a blowtorch. I didn’t try the oven method, but it should work without a problem.
- Leftover can be put back to freezer and store for up to a week. Just slice and serve.