Thursday, February 17, 2011

~Just Dessert~ Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

picture from


Makes 9
  • For the cakes:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • For assembling:
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 6 cups chocolate ice cream (3 pints)
  • For the meringue:
  • 12 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cakes: Sift 1 1/3 cups sugar, the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Combine oil, water, and vanilla.
  2. Whisk egg yolks with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. With machine running, slowly pour oil mixture into yolks, and then add sugar mixture.
  3. In a clean mixer bowl, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed, gradually adding remaining 2/3 cup sugar, until medium stiff peaks form. Mix one-third of the whites into cake batter, then gently fold in remaining whites.
  4. Divide batter between two 12-by-17-inch parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets, and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake until cakes are set and spring back when touched, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Assemble the baked Alaska: Coat six 11-ounce bowls or ramekins with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Cut out 6 cake circles to fit in bottoms of bowls (we used a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter), and place one in each bowl. Top each with 1/3 cup chocolate ice cream, smoothing surface. Cut out 6 cake circles to fit on top of ice cream (we used a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter), and place on ice cream. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes.
  6. Top each cake with 1/3 cup ice cream, smoothing surface. Cut out 6 cake circles to fit on top of ice cream (we used a 4-inch round cookie cutter), and place on ice cream. (This should fit just at the top of the bowl.) Cover assembled cakes with plastic wrap overhang, and freeze for at least 4 hours.
  7. To remove from bowls, open plastic wrap, flip cakes onto a baking sheet, and remove plastic wrap. Freeze cakes while making meringue.
  8. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Make the meringue: Heat egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl of a mixer set over a pan of simmering water, whisking often, until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Transfer bowl to mixer, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes.
  9. Cover each assembled cake with 1 cup meringue. Bake until meringue is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of meringue. Move flame back and forth until browned and caramelized.
From Martha Stewart Living, February 2011
Read more at Baked Alaska with Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Ice Cream - Martha Stewart Recipes

Upon seeing the show-stopping baked Alaska, (February 2011 Martha Stewart Living) I was on a mission to re-create this dessert in my kitchen.  For those not yet privy to this beautiful dessert, it's a meringue shell that houses layers of cake and ice cream.  Sound good?  Thought so.

Let's talk about the name.  Why call it a baked Alaska?  To me, it looks more like a white-washed porcupine that has been scorched (an artists rendition of course).  Actually, the name originated from Delmonico's restaurant in New York in 1876, in honor of the newly acquired Alaskan territory.  George Sala, a patron at Delmonico's, described the dessert as, " The 'Alaska' is a baked ice... The nucleus or core of the entremet is an ice cream.  This is surrounded by an envelope of carefully whipped cream, which,  just before the dainty dish is served, is popped into the oven, or is brought under influence of a red hot salamander."  What a vivid description that is!  However, my feminine side would describe the baked Alaska as a little purse, with only the finest belongings tucked inside.

From my baking experience thus far, every dessert has a story.  I often wonder how and why people showcase their finished products without mentioning all the quirks, pit falls and reality blunders that occurred during the creative process.  Maybe, it's just me, but cooking in my kitchen is anything but uneventful.  Everything is a saga, no matter what I'm creating.  It's not necessarily a bad thing... or is it (*grinning*)?  My kitchen successes and catastrophes often mirror other areas of my life. For instance, learning to make do with what I have has been a skill particularity developed since taking on this project.  Such an attribute can be applicable to my life and in yours.

Photo Gallery

OK, here we go.  The Alaskan adventure begins...ready?
Most of the ingredients required for the batter.
He's wondering what's in the measuring cup. 
Sarah Elizabeth is helping to mix the dry ingredients for the batter.
Of course, she has to try some chocolate. 
Dry ingredients all mixed where do they go?
Egg yolks are mixed for a few minutes in the mixer.
Back to sampling...that's the main reason Sarah's here (*laughing*)
Here are the egg whites.  They will be added to the batter.
Folding in the egg whites to the batter.
Egg whites again...pretty.
Baking sheets.
Spreading the batter on the baking sheets.
I didn't have a second rimmed baking sheet.  No worries!  I invented my own.  Simply take 4 dowels used in cake decorating and make your own square.  It worked perfectly!
The ramekins are oiled and the plastic wrap is on.
As often as possible, we only use the best ingredients.  Sarah is particularly proud of that.  Can you tell?
Using the dowels worked!  As you can see, nothing spilled over the sides. It's all about making it work.
1st layer is the cake.
2nd layer is chocolate ice cream.
3rd layer is cake
Let chill.
The meringue. Heat first over simmering water and then add to mixer.
The cakes after they are taken out of plastic.  Let chill while preparing meringue.
  Wow, it gets loud!
Sarah wants the whisk.
Meringue is ready.
Adding meringue to cakes.
Almost finished.  Last side to do.
Torching!  I can feel the power! 
So gorgeous that it reminds me of a birthday cake.
The J man loves the torch.
Here we are! We're about to indulge in a baked Alaska for our very first time.
They worked so hard at making the dessert that they feel like warriors.
She's in it for the chocolate.
"Oh man, this is sooo good!"
Baked Alaska
The layers.
                                              We hope you enjoy making your own.  Have fun!

~Just Dessert~



Hi Morgan! Thanks for your nice comments on my blog! I'm really impressed that you made that amazing dessert and that it turned out so beautifully! I took one look at the recipe and pretty much gave up all hope that I could do it. But kudos to you! And it looks like your kids really enjoyed it. So nice to meet a fellow Martha blogger! :-)

The Green Mama said...

Thanks, Andrew! The success with such a dessert comes from blasting the radio, and having way too much fun.

Anyone reading this comment should check out Andrew's blog too. Andrew has a very well written and nicely organized blog about all things Martha. If you are looking for something in particular, he's the man!

Side note to Andrew: we are both Capricorns. Oh my! Does that have something to do with our passion for finer living? Hmmmm...*winks*

The Green Mama said...

*Andrew's blog is*

The Green Mama said...

The other day, someone from Italy asked me if this dessert could be frozen. It can remain frozen for up to four hours. Beyond that, you would be serving a baked Alaska with a sponge-meringue crust. Not my idea of meringue at its best. Keep it to under four hours, otherwise make dessert and freeze overnight without meringue shell. Hope this helps!