Baked Alaska is so old-school, even the old-school recipe books I have attempt to put a modern twist on it: mini baked Alaska, four-level baked Alaska, triple fudge baked Alaska. Wow. You know you’re dealing with a throwback when even the ol’ fuddy duddies think it’s a fuddy duddy dessert. But I say: embrace pastry atavism! Love the classic! Just a big mound of ice cream covered in meringue (and baked).
There are many, many ways to prepare baked Alaska. A dome mold is standard, but loaf pans are common. Layer cake pans and springform pans are also sometimes used. I myself favor the free-form approach using no pan and just two layers of ice cream or sorbet. You can use any combination of flavors you wish, either store bought or homemade. Roland Mesnier (the only contemporary pastry chef I found that’s even willing to entertain putting a baked Alaska recipe in a cookbook) recommends a combination of vanilla ice cream (made with honey instead of sugar as a sweetener) and raspberry sorbet. Sounds good to me!
1 recipe génoise, prepared without the butter and baked in an 9″ parchment-lined cake pan
1/2 cup heavy syrup
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
16 ounces (2 cups) vanilla ice cream
16 ounces (2 cups) raspberry sorbet
1 recipe Italian meringue
powdered sugar for dusting
1 recipe raspberry sauce for serving
With a serrated knife, slice the génoise layer horizontally into two equal rounds. Trim one piece into an oval shape about 9″ x 5″, this will be your base. Now slice the remaining half into two 1/4″ thick rounds…don’t worry, it’s easier than it sound and you can freeze the génoise to make it easier to cut.
To assemble, set the base on an oven-proof serving dish. Combine the syrup and the Grand Marnier and paint about half of it onto the base.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer. Scoop large spoonfuls of the ice cream into a medium bowl. Allow it to sit for maybe 2-5 minutes to soften a little, then stir it with a spoon until it’s spreadable. Apply the ice cream to the base, giving it a bit of a slope. Put the Alaska into the freezer for half an hour to firm the ice cream. Repeat the process with the raspberry sorbet, shaping the Alaska into a rough egg shape. Put it back into the freezer for half an hour.
Remove the Alaska from the freezer and cover it — in patchwork fashion — with the thin pieces of génoise. Paint the rest of the Gran Marnier syrup onto the cake and put the whole thing back into the freezer while you prepare the meringue. When the meringue is ready, take the Alaska out of the freezer and spread it on top. Use a spatula, pipe it, or do some combination of the two…it’s up to you!
Return your creation to the freezer. It will hold there for up to four hours. When you’re ready to serve it, preheat your oven to 425. Retrieve the Alaska from the freezer, dust it with the powdered sugar and bake it for 2-3 minutes until golden brown (turn it every 20 seconds or so for even browning). Spoon the sauce around the base and serve immediately!