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Baked Alaska Recipe

Baked Alaska Recipe | Michele Bogle
Baked Alaska Recipe | Michele Bogle

The origin of Baked Alaska is quite simple. There is no romantic story or elaborate genesis. Delmonico’s French chef Charles Ranhofer created this classic dessert of ice cream and cake wrapped up in toasted meringue as a tribute to the United States' purchase of Alaska in 1867.

Originally named Alaska Florida, Ranhofer was artistically demonstrating the contrasting effect of cold versus warm, published in his cookbook, The Epicurean, in 1893 – the recipe now available on the Cooks Info site.

Shortly after that, New Orleans chef Antoine Alciatore, owner of famed Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, substituted toasting the meringue with a flambé using alcohol, set aflame at the table before being served as a more spectacular presentation.

There seems to be no clear timeline for renaming this special dish, only to mention that notable presentations and clever modifications of its frosty selections, like sherberts and frozen yogurts, to the shape of meringue have been a long attempted pursuit by world-class chefs.

If you are looking for a showy dessert to serve friends this New Year’s Eve, Baked Alaska is a perfect choice.

The recipe created below includes a dark chocolate pound cake, dense enough to support the moisture of the ice cream. The combination of ice creams chosen can be modified, of course, to meet a flavour profile of your choice. Instead of a flambé, I have chosen specialty candles in line with the theme, available at Bulk Barn. Please note that these candles should be used with as much caution as you would with a flambé. Allow for several hours before preparation to allow the ice cream to refreeze completely.

Baked Alaska

PREPARATION TIME   1 hr (not including freezing time) YIELDS  4


4 - 4-inch x 3-inch cups, 12-inch x 8 1/2-inch baking pan, spatula, measuring cup, handheld or standup mixer, parchment paper, 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter, knife, plastic wrap, medium metal or glass mixing bowl, cake tester, metal spoon, medium saucepan, baking sheet, small hand torch available at craft and home improvement shops, whisk


Chocolate Pound Cake

1 ½ cups flour

⅓ cup dark cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup softened butter

1 ¼ cups sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

⅔ cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla


6 cups ice cream, divided into 3 flavours


6 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 tsp cream of tartar

¼ tsp kosher salt

4 sparkler candles


Step 1

Line cups with plastic wrap, leaving a little overhang for removal. If you have 4 cups of the same shape and size, this step can be done all at one time. If not, repeat this step, leaving the cone-shaped ice cream in the freezer without the cup only after it is completely frozen.

Layer ice creams in each plastic-lined cup, smooth the top and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for several hours until solid. The time differs for each freezer.

Step 2

While the ice cream layers are refreezing, prepare the cake.

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set it aside.

With a standup or hand mixer, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar on medium speed until pale in colour.

On low speed, add 3 eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. 

Add the flour mixture parts at a time, alternating with milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl during mixing, if needed. Mix in the vanilla just until combined. Don’t overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean. Let cool.

Step 3

Unwrap the top of the ice cream forms and invert onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer while preparing the meringue.

Assembly and meringue preparation are to be done just ahead of serving.

Fill the saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to a simmer.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together 6 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan of simmering water, constantly whisking until sugar has dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Immediately beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until soft, glossy peaks form, for approximately 5 minutes. This is the Italian method which provides more substantial texture than using the cold method. 

Step 4

Test the hand torch for flame length and strength before using it to know how close to get to the dessert. Test a sparkling candle ahead to familiarize yourself with the intensity of the sparks.

Cut out cake bases from the pound cake with a cookie cutter.

Remove plastic wrap from ice cream forms and place each on a cake base on individual serving dishes. Delicate plates are not recommended should contact with the torch's heat create cracks. Spoon meringue over it each, using a spoon to create a swirled pattern. Make sure that all of the ice cream is covered before torching. Set each in the freezer until ready to toast.

When ready, move swiftly to toast meringue all over the dome of the meringue until light golden brown. Repeat for each. Place the sparkling candles in each to complete the spectacular presentation.

Happy New Year!