Fudgy brownie bottom, a mountain of vanilla ice cream swirled with homemade lemon curd surrounded by a toasted vanilla meringue.
What is a baked alaska? Or… what is this majestic thing I’m looking at?
It comes in three parts: a cake bottom (or in our case, brownie), a tall dome of ice cream, and a toasted meringue that covers the entire dessert. For some history on the dessert, check out this.
I know it looks intimidating but it’s 100% doable for anyone who has the patience to fiddle with plastic wrap (because that really is the most annoying part!). You can do this!
How to make a Baked Alaska
- Find the right pan & bowl: The diameter of the bottom of the pan and the top of the bowl should be equal. The pan is to bake the brownie in, the ice cream will be packed into the bowl (along with the lemon curd, should you choose to use it).
- Prep the bowl & pan: Slowly line the bowl entirely with cling wrap so that every bit of bowl is covered with wrap. It’s okay if the wrap bunches in places, do the best you can.
- Make the filling: Let the ice cream soften on the counter, so that it’s easier to scoop and pack it into the bowl. Scoop it into the bowl, alternating with lemon curd until the bowl is filled to the rim. Lay a sheet of cling wrap on top to seal and set it in the freezer until completely solid. Do this 24 hours before you plan to serve the dish so the ice cream won’t be melty.
- Make the brownie bottom: This is a one bowl, easy recipe (for keen observers, it’s half of my emergency brownie recipe). Once the batter is whisked together, pour it into a greased pan (even better if you have round parchment paper that fits the pan) and bake. Make sure it’s fully chilled before assembling the baked alaska.
- Make the meringue: I make my meringues the swiss way, warming up the egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Then whip until stiff peaks, adding the vanilla and salt towards the end.
Assembling the Baked Alaska
This is probably the most annoying step. Once the brownie is on the plate you’ll start unmolding the ice cream dome from the bowl. First unwrap the top layer, then use the wrap overhang to lift the dome out. Use an offset spatula to help you with the sides. The goal is to get it out in one piece, a perfect dome that then sits on the brownie. Keep the cling wrap on the top and sides and set it on top of the brownie.
Then unwrap the dome and spread the meringue all over it. Aim for an even layer, leaving no gaps. Once it’s all on you can torch it, using a kitchen torch. Set it in the freezer until it’s time to serve.
Ingredients to make a Brownie Baked Alaska
Cocoa: Dutch process cocoa gives the brownies a rich, dark chocolate taste.
Butter: Unsalted, cold is fine (it will be melted).
Flour: all purpose, if you wish to make these gluten free use a 1-to-1 flour substitute.
Eggs: One whole egg for the brownie and egg whites for the meringue. This recipe cannot be made egg-free. Here’s an idea for what you can do with the leftover yolks.
Ice Cream: I used vanilla bean; as much as I’d be tempted to make my own for this recipe it’s important you use something that freezes solid (I wouldn’t use a no churn recipe for example) so that you don’t have a mess on your hands.
Lemon Curd: My basic, silky and just perfect homemade lemon curd (you’ll need less than half of this recipe).
Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract, not imitation, for the meringue. Sometimes I like to do a mix of extract and the seeds of a vanilla bean for a very vanilla flavor.
Salt: Fine sea salt. If using table salt, cut the amount in half.
Variations on the Brownie Baked Alaska
The only parts you really need for this recipe are the brownie and the meringue. You can go wild with whatever ice cream you want in the center. I loved the sharpness of the lemon curd between soft vanilla ice cream layers and the meringue but anything will do.
Also! You can use more than one ice cream, it’ll create a beautiful marble/swirl effect.
How much ice cream do I need for a Baked Alaska?
I’d wager about two pints but it’s really going to depend on how tall the bowl is.
How best to store a baked alaska?
On a plate in the freezer, uncovered.
Won’t the ice cream melt when I torch the meringue?
Nope! The meringue completely covers the ice cream and creates a solid barrier.
I don’t have a 6” round pan, what else can I use?
If you want to make a BIG baked alaska, go for an 8” round (the bowl for the ice cream will also have to be 8 inches).
Alternatively you can use a loaf pan. To do this you’ll want to bake the brownie first, wrap it and set it aside and then line the same loaf pan with plastic wrap and mold the ice cream into it.
Recipe for Brownie Baked Alaska
Brownie Baked Alaska
- 6 inch round cake pan
- 6 in ch round bowl (measured from the top)
- cling wrap
- ¼ cup butter unsalted, 57g
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
- ¼ cup dutch process cocoa 40g
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour 25g
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 3 large egg whites
- ¾ cups granulated sugar 150g
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
Prepare the dome of ice cream (24 hours early):
- Let the ice cream soften at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until it’s rather easy to scoop. Line a 6” round bowl (measured from the top rim) with plastic wrap, leaving overhang on the sides. Spoon the ice cream into the bowl, alternating with spoonfuls of lemon curd. Keep going until you’ve reached the top and smooth into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the freezer.
Make the brownie bottom:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a greased, 6” round pan with a parchment circle (it helps if you have little handles).
- In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter. Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla until the mix is shiny. Add the egg and whisk well. Fold in the cocoa and flour. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until center is slightly puffed (a sign of doneness). Let cool then remove from the pan.
Make the meringue:
- Set a pot filled ⅓ of the way with water over low heat. Bring to a simmer.
- In a heatproof bowl (one that will fit over the pot without touching the water) add the eggs and sugar, immediately whisk to combine. Set the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk as it warms. Between your index and thumb, pinch some of the mixture, if you cannot detect any (or at least not many) granules of sugar, it’s done and remove from the heat.
- Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and begin whisking on low, gradually moving up to medium. Whip for 5-7 minutes, adding the vanilla and salt toward the end. Stopping when you’ve reached stiff peaks (when you can remove the whisk from the bowl and the meringue holds shape.
- Set the brownie layer on a plate. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap from the dome of ice cream. Unmold the ice cream from the bowl, using the hanging plastic wrap and set it upside down on top of the brownie.
- Spread the meringue over the ice cream and brownie, covering it in an even layer and ensuring no bits of ice cream/brownie are exposed.
- Using a kitchen torch, torch the meringue all over until dark brown. Set in the freezer for another 30 minutes at least, before serving.