This version was neat in that the Baked Alaska was actually individual cupcakes - one layer each of vanilla and chocolate with the ice cream in between. Really fun for kids to each get their own, and so pretty on the plate. It called for strawberry ice cream, but we used two of our favorites: chocolate and cookie dough. They worked great and were definitely a hit (and the ice cream stayed pretty well frozen). I think my daughter wolfed hers down in less than a minute!
Here's the recipe:
Triple-decker Baked Alaska
What you'll need
- FOR THE CUPCAKES:
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 pint strawberry ice cream
- FOR THE MERINGUE:
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
How to make it
- Session 1: Prep the Cupcakes
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan with oil or butter.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until the cocoa has dissolved. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another small bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together the milk and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, use a mixer set on medium speed to beat together the butter and sugar until smooth, scraping the sides as needed, about 2 minutes. Increase the mixer's speed to high and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition until a thick, creamy batter has formed, about 3 minutes.
- Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat at low speed until the flour has disappeared. Pour in half the milk mixture and continue beating until well blended. Repeat the process, alternating between the milk and flour mixtures and beating between each addition until evenly blended.
- Pour half the batter into a separate bowl. Quickly whisk the cocoa mixture, then add it to one of the bowls of batter and stir until evenly blended.
- Add 1/4 cup of the chocolate batter to six of the muffin wells. Divide the vanilla batter among the remaining six wells. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the cupcakes have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently loosen the cupcakes from the pan and transfer them to a platter to cool completely. Reserve the muffin pan and remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften.
- Slice three vanilla and three chocolate cupcakes in half crosswise (save the rest for another dessert). Reassemble them, swapping the tops and bottoms so that each cupcake has one vanilla and one chocolate half. Return the cupcakes to the muffin pan.
- Remove the top from one of the cupcakes and add a 1-inch layer of ice cream (the well should be nearly full). Press the top back into place and repeat with the remaining cupcakes. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze the desserts until solid, about 3 hours.
- Session 2: Bake and Serve
About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oven to 450 degrees and make the meringue. In a medium-size bowl, use a mixer set on medium speed to beat the egg whites until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes more. Slowly blend in the sugar, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat the eggs until they are stiff and glossy as shown at left, about 2 minutes.
- Run a knife around the perimeter of the cupcakes to loosen them from the pan. Transfer them to a waxed paper–lined cookie sheet. Working quickly, add a large dollop of meringue to the top of each cupcake, dividing it evenly among them. Use a butter knife to spread the meringue over each dessert, covering it entirely. Use the back of a spoon to form small peaks on the surface of the meringue.
- Bake the desserts until the meringue is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer each Baked Alaska to an individual plate and serve immediately. Makes 6.
Nutritional InformationPer serving (1 cupcake): Calories 265 ● Total Fat 9 g (13% DV) ● Saturated Fat 5 g (26% DV) ● Cholesterol 56 mg (19% DV) ● Sodium 176 mg (7% DV)
Food History: Why Alaska Anyway?
Although it seems like a modern creation, the hot-and-cold, cake-and-ice-cream concept has been around for nearly two centuries. But it was after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 that chefs at the famed New York restaurant Delmonico's added a dessert called Alaska-Florida to their menu. By the early 1900s, this same dish of cake, ice cream, and curly clouds of meringue was featured in Fannie Merritt Farmer's "Boston Cooking-School Cook Book" as Baked Alaska.
by Nancie McDermott
Our cupcake version of the heat-defying dessert packs in something for everyone. In addition to the usual pairing of warm (the meringue coating) and cold (the cake-and-ice-cream center), this recipe offers three layers of flavor. Putting it all together is simple, thanks to a clever "bake, slice, and swap" technique. You'll need two kitchen sessions to complete the recipe, but the result is a treat as impressive as our forty-ninth state!
Nancie McDermott is the author of "Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations" (Chronicle Books).