Thursday, February 12, 2015

Baked Alaska with a Lighter? You Betcha!

I’ve always wanted to do a Baked Alaska, and with Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to demonstrate this show-stopping dessert. I just didn’t anticipate coming up with possibly the greatest browning meringue hack in history.

As you’ll see in the video, I made two of these, so I could show you a couple different ways to decorate. After browning the first one with a blowtorch, my preferred method, I started on the second, and for whatever reason the torch stopped working.

I was just about to turn on the oven, where you can finish these at 500°F until browned, when I had an idea. I’d just bought a windproof lighter to use when grilling in the backyard, and wondered if the tiny jet flame that shoots out from the tip would be hot enough to do the job. It was, and it did.

As far as the actual recipe itself, there’s really not a lot that can go wrong. As long as you freeze your ice cream cake thoroughly before browning the meringue, and cook your sugar syrup to 240°F, yours will look just like mine, or better.

There are obviously unlimited combinations of cake and ice cream flavors you can use for this, so I suggest consulting with your Valentine, and giving this easy Baked Alaska technique a try very soon. Enjoy!

For 2 Baked Alaska:
Note: You can make these ahead, including the piping, freeze, and then brown the meringue before serving.

1 1/2 cups raspberry ice cream
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
2 round thick slices chocolate cake

For the Italian meringue:
2 large egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
- beat to soft peak, and slowly add 240 F. sugar syrup (see below)
- continue beating until you have stiff peaks that will hold a sharp line

For the sugar syrup:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water

FLAMBE NOTE: First of all, be careful. Pour an ounce or so of any liqueur (I used brandy but cherry liqueur or Framboise would be even better) into a pan and place on low heat. When it’s warm enough you can it ignite with a lighter, and spoon the flaming liquid over your baked Alaska. Just be sure to turn down the lights!


Novonia said...

I wonder if the lighter technique would work with creme brulee. (I have no torch, seeing as how it might only get used a few times a year)

Thanks for the tip about the lighter, I would have not been able to try this out without it and it looks great, and hey, who can go wrong with ice cream?

Unknown said...

The ice cream core can be made ahead, but is it possible to make the whole thing ahead of time? Unless guests are okay with watching the merengue portion in the making.

Randilicious1079 said...

I was really hoping you were going to say "brown the outside, brown the outside, brown the outside".

Paul said...

Browned the outside, browned the outside #missedopportunity

Chef John said...

Yes you can make the whole thing ahead!

Chef John said...

I don't think the lighter is powerful enough to do crème brûlée!

diskinected said...

I was just wondering where you got the windproof lighter? I can't seem to mind the one you were using in your video..

Chef John said...

Check hardware stores, outdoors/camping supply stores, head shops, or online of course.

Unknown said...

I'm still on board with "Brown the outside, brown the outside, brown the outside."

Unknown said...

This is so cool!!!! Is this really a Alaskan dish, or just a american dish. Also during the week I am making an Ethiopian dinner. (Doro Wat and Injera), I was wondering if you could do a cool dish like that.........Maybe Indian for once.

oh and p.s: Chicken ''Tikka'' Masala is an Indian dish. But like many European explorations, they adapted the recipe to fit there pallet. For them it was less spices and more heavy cream. Whereas the traditional INDIAN dish marinated chicken in a mixture of herbs and spices, and yogurt! The sauce is made with tomato, and other spices. After the chicken is cooked in a Tandoor oven, it is slipped into the sauce in which you add a fermented cream (or yogurt). You then let it sit for 5-10 mins and serve. By the way I am 13 years old!:)

Unknown said...

Look at any hardware store or large electronics store for a Weller table-top torch. It's exactly the same thing as a crème brûlée torch but about half the price.

Chef John already did a chicken tikka masala:

Unknown said...

Whow!!!! Chef John, any chef can present a Baked Alaska, but only a brilliant one, could share the idea of the lighter. Thank you, i'll try it a.s.a.p. ;-)

Unknown said...

Irs difficult to find lemon in here so wat can I use as a substitute?

Unknown said...

Chef John,
I did not have success with the lighter. My ice cream started to melt before I could get my dessert brown all over. I served it partially browned but it was great. I had left over meringue that I did not want to waste. Can it be saved?
Do you have a version of this recipe for my diabetic friends? The icing is too sweet for them?