Baked Alaska

Last week, I shared a perfect "Date Night In" dinner recipe for Valentine's Day - Drunken Chicken Marsala. This week, I've got the perfect dessert to follow it with... Baked Alaska! Flourless chocolate cake is topped with your favorite ice cream, and the whole thing is covered in meringue and toasted until it's a beautiful golden brown. Rich chocolatey cake, creamy ice cream, and marshmallow-y meringue? Who wouldn't fall in love with this dessert? IMG_9384 I will admit, there are several steps, mostly to the cake. Flourless chocolate cake is quite a fancy-pants dessert, often seen in high end restaurants. It's rich and decadently fudgy, plus it's gluten-free. (If you don't want to mess with the flourless chocolate cake, a boxed brownie mix would probably taste good as well.) Here we go! For the cake, begin by melting 8 oz of bittersweet chocolate, in the microwave or over a double boiler. My favorite is Ghirardelli. (Use a big bowl, because this will be the bowl that everything eventually goes into.) Set aside to cool. IMG_9363 In small bowl, add 15 tablespoons of softened butter. Stir it up with a wooden spoon or spatula until it's smooth and creamy, almost the consistency of mayonnaise. (You might get a workout!) Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and mix until smooth. Set this aside. IMG_9364 In another small bowl, combine 3 egg yolks (save the whites!) with 1 egg and 1/3 cup sugar. Whisk until smooth. IMG_9365 In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, place the egg whites you saved from earlier. Whip them until soft peaks form; then add 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. IMG_9368 Now you've got your four bowls of different batters ready to go. Here's how they get all mixed together. IMG_9369 1.) Mix the butter into the melted chocolate until smooth. 2.) Mix the egg yolks/sugar mixture into the chocolate/butter mixture until smooth. 3.) Fold a small portion of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it; then fold in the remaining egg whites until thoroughly combined. Whew! The batter is finally done. Spread it into a greased 9-inch springform pan, and bake at 325*F for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Set aside to cool, then place in the refrigerator or freezer. (I made the cake a day ahead and stored it in the refrigerator so it was easier to handle.) Once the cake cools, it forms almost a bowl - perfect for the ice cream! IMG_9373 Next step - the ice cream. Remove the flourless chocolate cake from the refrigerator or freezer and remove it from the baking pan. Soften up 2 pints of your favorite ice cream, and spoon the softened ice cream into the center of the cake, doming it up toward the middle. (I used 'Cherry Garcia' to go with the Valentine's Day theme. Though I thought the ice cream would be more pink!) Return the cake and ice cream to the freezer to firm up again, at least 1 hour. IMG_9376 IMG_9380 When you're ready to serve, whip up the meringue. Place 3 more egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, whipping until stiff and glossy. Spread over the ice cream and down to the edge of the cake, making sure to seal the edges. Then, using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the meringue until toasty. Alternately, if you don't have a torch, place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve. IMG_9392 Mmmmm, what a showstopper dessert. My husband and I loved this... what a great dessert for Valentine's Day!

Baked Alaska

  • For the cake:
    • 4 large eggs
    • 8-oz bittersweet chocolate , coarsely chopped
    • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • cup, plus 1/4 cup sugar
    • pinch salt
  • For the ice cream filling:
    • 2 pints your favorite flavor premium ice cream, softened until spreadable
  • For the meringue:
    • 3 egg whites
    • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • ¾ cup sugar

Method

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325*F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment, and spray with cooking spray.

2. Separate 3 of the eggs. Place the 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg in a small bowl. Set aside. Place the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.

3. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool 5 minutes.

4. Place the butter into a medium bowl and work it with a spatula until it is soft and smooth as mayonnaise. Add the cocoa powder and mix until it is thoroughly blended.

5. Add 1/3 cup sugar to the bowl with the egg and 3 yolks; whisk until mixture thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

6. Whip the egg whites and salt, using the whisk attachment or hand mixer until opaque. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to whip at high speed until the whites form shiny peaks.

7. Now it’s time to mix everything together. Add the butter mixture to the bowl of still-warm chocolate. With a spatula, gently stir and blend until you have a thick, shiny, smooth mixture. Blend in the egg yolk/sugar mixture, stirring until they are completely incorporated and the mixture looks like brownie batter. Finally, fold in a small amount of the whipped egg whites to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Scrap the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8. Bake at 325*F for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. Cool the cake completely to room temperature. Remove the cake from the springform pan and refrigerate or freeze at least 2 hours.

9. When you are ready to fill the cake, remove it from the refrigerator or freezer. Spread the softened ice cream into the cake and dome it up in the center. Return to freezer for at least 1 hour.

10. To make the meringue, combine the 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to whip on ugh until the egg whites have formed stiff and glossy peaks.

11. Remove the cake from the freezer, and spread the meringue over the ice cream layer, taking care to seal off the edges.

12. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue, or place in a 500*F oven for 3-5 minutes until the meringue is browned.

Source: adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan