My family first heard of Baked Alaska while watching the now (sadly) defunct American Baking Competition on CBS. The dessert was featured on their segment for “surprise inside” dishes.
After a bit of practice, we learned that making single serve versions was pretty simple and super satisfying for their showstopper appearances and unbeatable combinations of sweet flavors and warm and cold temperatures.
The dessert has three main parts: a cake or brownie base, a scoop of ice cream, and a layer of meringue. If you are in a pinch, you can buy brownies and ice cream and only need to make the meringue. Or, if you are feeling fancy, you can make each part (including the ice cream) from scratch.
The name “Baked Alaska” is a bit deceiving as the dessert actually got its start at Delmonico’s in New York, where you can now get one for $13. In 1867, the United States had purchased Alaska for $7 million in a highly debated transaction; the dessert’s name was simply a marketing ploy to capitalize on the controversy over Alaska.
If you aren’t ready to drop $13 on a dessert plate or are nowhere in the vicinity of New York, this recipe will give you the basics to make your own.
- Prep Time:20 minutes
- Cook Time:23 minutes
- Total Time:43 minutes
- 1 pint ice cream
- 6 eggs (4 for the meringue and 2 for the brownies)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cup sugar (3/4 cup for the meringue and 1 for the brownies)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup flour
Start out by making the brownies. If you are in a pinch for time, you can buy a boxed brownie mix or pre-made brownies or cake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix the oil and 1 cup of the sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.
Add the vanilla and two of the eggs to the mix and stir until smooth.
Add the baking powder, cocoa powder, salt and flour to the mixture and and stir until smooth. To avoid clumps, it helps to sift these ingredients together before adding them to the wet ingredients.
Pour the glorious chocolate mix into a greased 9 x 9 square pan and bake for 20 minutes.
While the brownies are baking, make the most of your time by starting to prepare the meringue.
Separate the whites and the yolks of the four remaining eggs. You can get rid of the yolks, or make something like crème brûlée.
Using an electric mixer (it can be done by hand, but it is time consuming and more of a workout than you need if your goal is to enjoy dessert), beat the egg whites and a splash of cream of tartar until soft peaks form. This means that little tips appear and curl when you remove the whisk.
Start adding the remaining sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition. Stop when the mixture forms stiff peaks, meaning the tips no longer curl over.
If you want to make more Baked Alaskas, add an additional egg white per serving.
Once the brownie is fully cooled, use a cookie cutter about 3 inches in diameter (or a wine glass since you probably don’t have a cookie cutter), to cut out four circles of brownie and place them on a nonstick baking sheet at least 4 inches apart.
Top each circle of brownie off with a scoop of ice cream. Any flavor works. I went with chocolate éclair from Kroger.
Turn your oven up to 450°F.
Generously spoon the meringue onto each brownie and ice cream pair. Be sure to fully cover all of the ice cream as the meringue is what insulates it.
Place the meringue-blanketed baked Alaskas in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes.
When the edges of the meringue begin to turn a golden brown, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
If you are making these for the first time, I would recommend baking each one separately so you can keep an eye on them.
Using a pancake flipping spatula, gently remove each baked Alaska from the baking sheet and serve immediately.