Baked Alaska is one of those old school desserts whose heyday was the turn of the 20th century. It was created in New York City’s iconic Delmonico’s Restaurant to commemorate the acquisition of the Alaskan territory. This stylish dish was the toast of the town, with its ice cream-cake center artistically encased in meringue and set on fire table-side. The meringue’s insulating qualities protected the ice cream from the heat of the fire. Every ridge and peak caramelized and turned nut brown giving the whole dessert a toasted marshmallow flavor.
Sadly, the Baked Alaska fell out of vogue and joined the ranks of such outdated dishes as the lobster thermidor, tomato aspic, and turtle soup. Well I vote for a come-back; Baked Alaska is way too cool to be relegated to the history books.
Instead of the standard sponge cake and vanilla ice cream, I incorporated the flavors of one of my favorite desserts, tiramisu. I soaked lady fingers with coffee and amaretto and layered them with coffee ice-cream. The whole thing is covered in swirls of velvety Italian meringue then toasted with a blow torch. This is a unique dessert with tons of pizzazz. Give it a try and help keep a classic alive.
Tiramisu Baked Alaska
- Blow Torch
- 8” X 4” X 3” loaf pan
- Pastry bag with decorative tip (optional)
- Plastic wrap
- Candy thermometer
- 12 lady fingers
- 1 cup strong coffee - warm so it absorbs into the cookies easily
- 2 tablespoons amaretto
- 1 quart coffee ice cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 5 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Line the loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Remove your coffee ice cream from the freezer and let thaw until it is a spreadable consistency.
Spread ice cream into the bottom of your lined loaf pan until it fills about ¼ of the pan (about ½ quart of ice cream).
Brew one cup of strong coffee and put into a shallow bowl. Add amaretto to the coffee and stir. Soak the lady fingers in the coffee/amaretto. You want the liquid to soak into the center of the cookie but you don't want it to be falling apart. As you soak the lady fingers, place them on top of the ice cream layer (6 lady finger should create one layer).
Next spread another layer of ice cream on top of the layer of lady fingers. Finally, soak the remaining 6 lady fingers with coffee/amaretto and place on top of the ice cream to create the final layer.
Place in the freezer until the ice cream is completely frozen (at least two hours). Once frozen, you can prepare the Italian meringue.
In a small pot over low heat, combine sugar and water. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir.
Increase the heat and boil to soft-ball stage (235 to 240 degrees). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Be sure not to stir the syrup. Once the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, remove from heat.
Place egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites (the hot syrup essentially cooks the whites). Beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without fear the meringue will fall out of the bowl. You can put the finished meringue into a pastry bag, however piping is optional.
Remove the tiramisu ice cream cake from the freezer and invert onto a serving tray. Remove the plastic wrap. At this point it is important to move quickly. Pipe the meringue, completely covering the cake and creating lots of swirls and peaks. Alternatively, you can use a spoon or offset spatula to cover the cake, then use a fork to create texture in the meringue. You can put the meringue-covered cake back into the freezer until you are ready to serve.
Right before serving, light a blow torch and “toast” the meringue until completely caramelized and golden brown. Serve immediately.
Note: Blow torches can be very inexpensive. I purchased mine for about $10 at my local hardware store.