By Diane Forrest,
Cake, Ice Cream, Meringue, Fire...what a great way to end a meal! Of course, I’m talking about Baked Alaska. When I was younger I was a waitress for this great hotel downtown. It is the oldest one here, and it is on the National Registry of Historic Places. While the hotel has a fascinating history in itself, Liz Taylor and Patrick Swayze were some of its famous guests; it also boasts a fantastic menu as well. One night I was asked to assist with the R.O.T.C. ball. It was such a beautiful occasion, the girls all wore long dresses and corsages, and the young men all wore their uniforms and white gloves. The tables were decorated with fine linens and china, with beautiful flower arrangements. The food looked and smelled delicious, but after the main course was finished, the lights were turned down low, and in came the waiters carrying these flaming trays. You could hear the gasps from the room before everyone broke out in a round of applause.
I knew that it was called a Baked Alaska, but I never knew until now what the ingredients were. A Baked Alaska consists of a base of sponge cake, covered with a mound of ice cream, then topped with meringue. It is then placed in a very hot oven just until the meringue is browned, then served immediately. For the dramatic effect, dark rum is poured over the mound, then flambéed. I am including a basic recipe for you to try, however you can substitute the base for brownies or a cookie crust, and you can also use any variety of ice cream you choose. The main requirement however that is you make sure the entire area is covered with the meringue.
Today is Baked Alaska day, so why not surprise your family with this exotic and tasty dessert.
- 2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix (or any flavor)
- 4 to 8 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round mixing bowl or deep 8-inch square container with foil. Spread ice cream in container, packing firmly. Cover and freeze 8 hours or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x8 inch pan.
- Prepare cake mix as directed. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven according to package instructions, until center of cake springs back when lightly touched.
- Beat egg whites with cream of tartar, salt and sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or heavy brown paper. Place cake in center. Turn molded ice cream out onto cake. Quickly and prettily spread meringue over cake and ice cream, all the way to paper to seal. Return to freezer 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Bake the Alaska on the lowest shelf, 8 to 10 minutes, or until meringue is lightly browned. Serve at once.