Baked Alaska comes out of obscurity! (and the winner of Robin Asbell’s book)
Congratulations to Susan at www.wildyeast.com, she has won a copy of Robin Asbell's The New Whole Grain Cookbook. Thank you so much to everyone who left such incredibly kind comments about the Apple Pumpkin Cake I made from her book. I hope you will all check out Robin's fabulous book. Like most Americans I have been consumed by this election. Right before the VP debate some of the foodies on Twitter were discussing what they would be eating during the face off. With all the talk about our 49th state these days It dawned on me that the perfect dessert for this event would be the once loved Baked Alaska. I hadn't made or eaten a Baked Alaska in years. When I mentioned it to my friend Jen she immediately thought of her Home Ec class, nearly 25 years ago. I am convinced this dramatic dessert will be pulled from obscurity and we will once again see it on menus everywhere. Well perhaps not, but they are incredibly fun to make and delicious. Not to mention you get to use your Blow Torch, which is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I had a difficult time finding a current pastry book with a recipe for Baked Alaska to share with you. It is a layer of cake, or in this case a Russian Tea Cake as suggested by a Twitter friend and a Bright Red Tuile. I ended up using a recipe from Sherry Yards wonderful book The Secrets of Baking for the tea cake and a Jacques Torres recipe from Dessert Circus for the Italian Meringue. For 12 individual Baked Alaska: 1 small sheet of your favorite cake (butter cake, chocolate cake, pound cake or any other will work nicely) there may be left overs, I used them for a trifle. 1 pint ice cream of your choosing (I used "Imagine Whirled Peace" by Ben & Jerry's) 1 batch Italian Meringue from Dessert Circus: 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup water 3 large egg whites Using a 2-inch Round Cutter. cut the cake from a sheet. Using the same 2-inch Round Cutter. press the ice cream into the mold and then slide it off. You have to work quickly and it is helpful to freeze a metal or ceramic pan to set them on so they won't melt as you work. Once they are done keep them in the freezer until you are ready to assemble the Baked Alaska. The longer they have to set up the better. I piped a ring of ganache around the cake to act as an anchor for the ice cream, but this isn't entirely necessary. Set the ice cream on the cake rounds and then refreeze while you make the Italian Meringue. In a 1-quart heavy bottomed sauce pan fitted with a Candy Thermometer bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium high heat. When the syrup reaches 240° begin to whip the egg whites. When the syrup reaches 250° and the whites have reached soft peaks then carefully add the hot syrup to the egg whites, while the mixer is on medium speed. To prevent the syrup from hitting the whip pour the syrup along the edge of the bowl. Continue to whip the now hot egg whites until they are just warm, but not hot, about 5 minutes. They should be glossy and smooth. Prepare a Pastry Bag with either a large rose tip or a Star Tip and fill with the meringue. Decorate the cake and ice cream towers with the meringue. After the meringue is piped on the dessert can be refrozen until serving time. When you are ready to serve remove from the freezer and using a Blow Torch toast the meringue until you have the desired color. Be sure to do this on a piece of foil or metal pan. I had a pastry assistant torch something for me at work one time and set everything up on parchment paper. As you can imagine the paper caught fire and he was uninjured but embarrassed. Garnish with a tuile and serve. Enjoy!