Baked Alaska was a dessert for celebrations when I was growing up. We had it for my dad's birthday many years, and occasionally for other special moments. I remember as a young child being enamored with the magic of this dessert! How does the ice cream go into the oven and not come out a big, puddly mess? It's the magic of science! A perfect meringue blanket of insulation over the dome of ice cream.
On a particularly memorable occasion, when I was young, my mom put the Baked Alaska into the oven, and just a few minutes later the smoke alarms began to sound. Smoke poured from the oven! My sisters and I were told to go into the front yard. Panicked, we obeyed! It turns out, the paper bag that my mom put under the cake had burst into flames. I'm not quite sure how, but my dad put the fire out and avoided the fire department making a trip to our house.
Not wanting a repeat of these flames, I decided to fold strips of aluminum foil to place between the cake and a sheet pan, so that the cake could be lifted off and placed onto the serving plate. It was a 2-person job, but it worked! You could probably just put it on an oven-safe plate, but I haven't tried that method. If you are a risk-taker, the old paper bag method works too!
This was the perfect finish to our Alaska-themed dinner!
Traditional Baked AlaskaRecipe by:
- 1 Vanilla cake mix (and ingredients listed on box to make cake)
- ½ gallon Vanilla ice cream
- 6 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup sugar
- Soften a ½ gallon of ice cream on the counter for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line a medium sized mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Scoop the ice cream into the bowl, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets. Cover, and freeze for at least 4 hours. (Can be done up to a week in advance.)
- Prepare cake according to package directions and pour ⅔ full into a 9-inch cake pan. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool. Then invert the ice cream onto the cake, wrap together, and freeze until ready to serve.
- Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla on medium-high speed with a whisk attachment, until foamy. Slowly add sugar and continue beating several more minutes until mixture is glossy and has formed stiff peaks.
- Fold 2 strips of aluminum foil, using enough to fold over several times to create sturdy "holders" for the cake. Lay across a baking sheet. Place the cake and ice cream onto the foil strips. Using a spatula, spread meringue in a thick layer all over the ice cream cake, making sure it is completely covered all the way to the baking sheet, to seal. Use the back of a spoon to create valleys and swirls.
- Bake in the oven at 500 degrees for 3 minutes, or until peaks are golden brown. Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly. Let cake rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Freeze leftovers.