This post is from a while back, but I was inspired to bring it to the fore when I created a Baked Alaska for the Holiday issue of Better Homes and Gardens. You will find a picture of my Egg Nog version at the bottom of this post, along with a link to that recipe. The Baked Alaska makes a fantastic and beautiful dessert for any holiday party.
The inspiration for my desserts can come from the craziest places and this Coffee, Bourbon & Chocolate Baked Alaska is no exception. This weekend I fulfilled a dream, (one I didn’t know I had until I did it), to be a radio talk show host. That’s a generous description of what I was doing on Weekly Dish, but it was the kind job title Stephanie March offered when she invited me to sit in for her co-host (Stephanie Hansen), who was busy being on vacation.
Luckily, I was not filling this role alone, our friend Stephanie Meyer, was also on the air for the 2 hour show. I had a ball, but what I learned is that the “Stephanies,” as they are lovingly known, make this job seem so easy and effortless. They are hilarious, smart, quick and have an endless knowledge of what is going on in the Minneapolis food community (and a fair bit about the rest of the country too). I loved every second of it, but don’t think I’ll be giving up my day job.
After the show we went across the street to a neighborhood bar with a long list of coffee drinks, it was only 11 a.m., so booze should be served with caffeine. Stephanie March ordered a coffee, bourbon and black walnut drink, because … bourbon. I took one sip and said “Baked Alaska!” We were due for a snow storm that night, and all the predictions were that we’d be trapped inside. A baked Alaska made with ice cream of espresso bean, chocolate shavings, a splash of bourbon, sitting on a layer of devil’s food and then covered with toasted meringue seemed the perfect way to weather the storm.
- Revolving Cake Stand
- Trigger Start Blow Torch
Ice Cream Layer
- 1 batch coffee ice cream RECIPE (*see notes below)
- Milk chocolate for grating
Devil's Food Cake Layer
- 3/4 cup (160g) sugar
- 3/4 cup (108g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder (either natural or Dutch processed)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- scant 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk milk, plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon if you don't have buttermilk
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract homemade vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coffee
- 2 tbsp bourbon use more coffee if you don't want the booze
- 3/4 cup (175g) egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup (350g) sugar
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- Make and churn the ice cream as directed in the recipe. While it's churning, grate milk chocolate. The small pieces are a nice texture in the ice cream. I like milk chocolate because it doesn't quite freeze as hard. Add the chocolate shavings just before the ice cream is set, so they suspend in the mixture.
- Then freeze it in a Silicone Hemisphere Mold, or an 8-inch stainless steel bowl. Smooth the ice cream out in the mold and cover it with plastic wrap. Freeze. It can be made a few days ahead.
Devil's Food Cake Layer
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch Cake Pan with parchment paper.
- Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Sift the cocoa and baking soda if they are lumpy.
- Whisk in the liquid ingredients, until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until just set or a tester comes out with moist crumb. Cool completely. Can be made a day ahead.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites and sugar. It will be very thick and grainy.
- Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. This can take several minutes. You want to brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted and no grains are clinging to the sides.
- Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, put it on your stand mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed.
- Beat it until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Add the bourbon just before it reaches stiff peaks
- When ready to assemble, cut out a cardboard cake round to fit the silicone mold or steel bowl. Use that cardboard to cut the cake to the right size. Use a super silver knife to cut the cake to the right thickness.
- Place the cake over the ice cream, cover, then freeze until the ice cream is solid.
- To unfold, place the cardboard on the cake, then flip and ease the cake out. If you are using a metal bowl, you'll need to warm the bottom just slightly and ease it out. Place it on a revolving cake stand.
- Cover the ice cream in a thick layer of meringue. Take a blob of meringue in your fingers and pull up spikes. This is messy fun, don't try to do this without getting your hands in there! You can freeze the baked Alaska at this stage for several hours or even overnight.
- Just before serving, torch the meringue. Serve right away or freeze until you're ready. Use a thin bladed knife dipped in HOT water to slice.