When it comes to ice cream, I generally feel it’s hard to improve on a simple scoop right out of the carton. But this time my mind has turned to baked Alaska. I know … How retro.
Baked Alaska once was the star dessert of cruise ship dining rooms and upscale restaurants. The classic recipe called for vanilla ice cream enrobed in sponge cake, lavishly frosted with meringue, then lightly browned in a high-heat oven. At the last moment, it was doused in alcohol and set on fire. The waiter would emerge from the kitchen and parade around the room holding the star of the evening aloft. Now that’s showbiz.
Baked Alaska’s enduring appeal – and mystery – is easy to understand. How can you bake ice cream in an oven and not have it melt into a bubbly puddle? The answer? It’s doubly insulated by the cake and the meringue. This may seem daunting, but it’s not beyond the skills of a home cook.