You get the best of both worlds, cake and ice cream, in one treat with Baked Alaska, particularly when it’s layered with strawberry vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake.
Growing up, I went through a baking phase where for some reason the two things I tended to make all the time were chocolate pinwheel cookies and baked Alaska.
You can make baked Alaska in any shape. The baked Alaska I would make years ago was in sheet form, using two rectangular vanilla cake layers with a layer of chocolate ice cream sandwiched in between. This time, I thought I would go with a round shape to make it more interesting.
The mingling of strawberry and vanilla ice cream mixed with the toasted meringue and chocolate cake is heavenly. It’s not just the wonderful combination of flavors but the interplay of different textures that makes baked Alaska so unique. The fluffiness of the toasted meringue together with the smooth texture of the ice cream coupled with the moistness of the cake make for a great all-in-one dessert.
On top of all that yumminess, Baked Alaska can make quite a glorious presentation.
Basically, I just used my mixer bowl to layer the ice cream and chocolate cake. Line the bowl first with plastic wrap then start with a layer of vanilla ice cream followed by strawberry ice cream then top it with a cake layer. You can stop right there or repeat the same step to make two layers of cake and ice cream. Freeze it overnight or even longer until the ice cream cake is frozen solid. I used one recipe of strawberry vanilla ice cream, but you can use whatever flavor cake or ice cream you prefer. You can even use store bought if you want.
Cover the ice cream cake in a thick layer of Italian meringue, then bake it. That’s right, bake it in an oven preheated to 450°F for 3 minutes to lightly caramelize the surface. If you find the thought of putting an ice cream cake in a hot oven slightly unsettling, there are other ways to toast the meringue. I’ve seen baked Alaska browned with a blow torch. Ok, who would keep a blow torch in their kitchen, you might ask? Actually, I myself don’t have one, but I’ve seen chefs do it on TV. You could also use a disposable barbecue lighter. It looks like a wand and it’s the kind that’s used for camping or grilling. Grocery stores carry it and it’s relatively cheap around $7. So I picked one up and thought I would give it a try. This being a generously sized cake, it was taking forever. The lighter would turn off just after a few seconds and would take some minutes before you can light it again. Ten minutes had gone by and I had covered just a mere fraction of the surface. So I nixed the barbecue lighter and thought I would stick it in the oven and be done with it, just like I had done in the past. I gave it an extra 30 seconds on top of 3 minutes. I wouldn’t go past that for to do so would be tempting fate. Just make sure to place the cake on a rack with a shiny cookie sheet underneath or oven proof baking dish to add another barrier between the cake and the heat. Also, the time to walk away and multitask is not when the cake is in the oven. Watch the cake and whip it out as soon as it’s lightly brown.
The baked Alaska will come out fine and evenly browned. The thick layer of meringue will insulate and protect the ice cream from melting. Still, I wanted to put this prima donna of a cake right back in the freezer just to play it safe. But since I used a breakable plate, I let it rest for about 5 minutes at room temperature before refreezing to avoid a sudden change in temperature that might cause the plate to break. You can use the base of a spring form pan or even a pizza pan if you don’t want to have to worry about breakage.
Finish the cake with lots of texture when applying the Italian meringue, as the raised ridges make for better browning. You can cover the cake in meringue ahead of time. Just put it back in the freezer then toast it later. Again, if you use a breakable plate, even if it’s oven proof, wait for a few minutes before placing it in the oven to avoid a sudden change in temperature. Once the meringue is browned, you can serve the baked Alaska immediately or refreeze if you plan on serving it later. You can prepare it a few hours or even a day ahead of time, just freeze it again and take it out about 15 – 30 minutes before serving.
It’s party time with cake and ice cream!
And there you have it, Baked Alaska! Channel your inner daredevil and just stick it in that hot oven, or use a barbecue lighter to play it safe. Either way, the result will be completely worth it.
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (237 g)
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (70 g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda (9 g)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder (4 g)
- ½ teaspoon salt (3 g)
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (56 g)
- ¾ cup milk (187 g) simmered
- 1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee (2 g) dissolved in ½ cup boiling water (120 g)
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup regular mayonnaise (170 g)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (320 g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 recipe strawberry vanilla ice cream (or make whatever flavor you prefer, or use store bought)
- 8 large egg whites (288 g)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups granulated sugar (398 g)
- ¾ cup water (177 g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk then sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Place the unsweetened chocolate in a bowl. Heat the milk in a small saucepan just until simmering. Dissolve the instant coffee in boiling water. Pour the hot milk and coffee on the unsweetened chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs then add the mayonnaise beating until fully blended. Add the sugar beating until well incorporated, then add the vanilla extract.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients alternating with the chocolate coffee liquid in 3 – 4 additions beating until smooth and well blended.
- Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven. Let the cakes cool before turning out. Wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap, store in a lidded container then freeze until ready to use.
- Line a bowl with plastic wrap. Spoon a layer of vanilla ice cream to line the bottom of the bowl. Freeze for about 15 minutes. Spoon a layer of strawberry ice cream on the vanilla ice cream. Freeze for another 15 minutes. Place one chocolate cake layer on the strawberry ice cream.
- Repeat step 1 adding another layer of vanilla ice cream followed by strawberry ice cream ending with the second chocolate cake layer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze preferably overnight until frozen solid. Turn out the ice cream cake onto an oven proof serving plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap then freeze until ready for final assembly.
- Make the Italian meringue: In a stand mixer bowl that has been washed in hot sudsy water, whip the egg whites until frothy then add the cream of tartar. Decrease the mixer speed while making the sugar syrup.
- To make the sugar syrup, place the granulated sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Swirl to dampen the sugar but do not stir. Turn heat to medium high and let the sugar mixture boil until it reaches 240°F, the sugar has dissolved, the syrup is clear and bubbly. Remove from heat. Turn the mixer to medium speed. Pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a very thin and steady stream aiming towards the edge where the meringue meets the bowl and avoiding the wire whip. Turn the speed up to medium high and whip the egg whites until the bowl is cool to the touch and the meringue is thick and glossy with firm peaks. Whip in the vanilla extract towards the end.
- Preheat oven to 450°F at this point.
- Remove the ice cream cake from the freezer. Use a spatula to frost the ice cream cake with a thick layer of meringue to insulate the ice cream cake and prevent the ice cream from melting. Use the back of a spoon or pipe designs with an icing tip to create textures on the meringue.
- Place a wire rack on a cookie sheet, then place the frosted ice cream cake on the wire rack. Bake at high heat for 2 – 3 minutes or just until lightly brown. Remove the Baked Alaska immediately from the oven. You can freeze the Baked Alaska again until you are ready to serve but if it’s on a breakable serving plate, make sure to leave it at room temperature first for about 5 minutes to avoid a sudden change in temperature.
When browning the meringue in the oven, place the cake on a wire rack with a cookie sheet underneath the wire rack.
You can also use a blow torch (I don’t have one) to brown the meringue or a barbecue lighter. A barbecue lighter will take a long time especially if you have a large cake since the lighter will turn off after a few seconds and will need a few minutes to restart. I find browning in the oven is the easiest and quickest way to get the job done.
Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream Chocolate Cake