Baked Alaska is one of the few dessert recipes that has intimidated me for years. It's really not that hard, the problem was that I tried to make a Baked Alaska before I knew how to make meringue. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you have never made meringue, don't start with this dessert, because failure with a Baked Alaska involves melted ice cream in the oven. However, now that I am an experienced meringue maker in my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer (necessary equipment for meringue making), I decided to give Baked Alaska another shot. And while I wasn't able to see Russia from my house, the dessert was a huge success, and really quite simple to make, as long as the meringue is done correctly.
According to Wikipedia, the dessert, Baked Alaska was originally cooked at Delmonico's Restaurant (in New York, not Alaska) in 1876 to honor the recently acquired American territory. There is another variation of the dessert that originated in Nome, Alaska which involves adding rum to the dessert, turning down the lights, and lighting the entire dessert on fire using the flambé technique.
I made traditional baked Alaskas in individual sized portions, using a raspberry-flavored pink meringue. This dessert simply involves a piece of pound cake, a layer of ice cream and a layer of meringue on top. As I learned the hard way in the past, it is extremely important to prepare the meringue correctly or the entire dessert will melt when you put it in the oven. However, if the meringue is done correctly, it will create a seal on top of the dessert that will keep the ice cream cold during the four minutes in the oven while the meringue gets toasted, or baked.
Sasha's Raspberry Limoncello Baked Alaska (makes 4)
4 small pieces of homemade or store bought pound cake, sliced one inch thick
Limoncello-Coffee Gelato (click here for my recipe)
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 dram of Lorann's Raspberry Flavoring
1 drop of Ateco gel-based pink food coloring (the best food colorings out there, and the ones I use in all of my cupcake recipes)
First, wedge each slice of pound cake in a ramekin. Then add a scoop of the limoncello-coffee ice cream and place the ramekins in the freezer while you make the meringue. To make the meringue, separate three egg whites from the yolks. Place the egg whites and the cream of tartar in the basin of your stand mixer and beat, using the whisk attachment until peaks begin to form. Then add a drop of the food coloring and the vial of raspberry extract. Continue to beat on high while slowly adding half a cup of sugar. In the end, you will have to beat on high for about five minutes until you have a fluffy meringue.
Add the meringue to a conventional pastry bag fitted with a tip. It should be pink in color and smell like raspberry by this point, of course. Pipe on top of the ice cream of each dessert using the pasty bag, the same way you would frost a cupcake. Make sure to create a seal around the edges with the meringue and not to leave any of the ice cream exposed. Then, place each of the four ramekins in the freezer for two hours (or up to a day). When you are ready to eat, place in an oven preheated to 450 degrees. Bake for three to four minutes only, until the meringue is nicely (but lightly) browned. The combination of flavors here was perfect - the limoncello and coffee went so nicely with the raspberry flavored meringue, and I was so happy that the dessert didn't melt! I'm including a photo of the inside of the dessert to show that the ice cream is still frozen inside.