So I have a new favorite dinner party dessert. Why is it my fave?

(1) it was easy, in that kinda-labour-intensive-but-ultimately-not-difficult way.

(2) if the dead silence which came over the room full of my friends was any indication, it was delicious.

(3) mini baked alaska’s are super cute.

But first, lets back this train up. What am I talking about?

Baked Alaska (also known as glace au four, omelette à la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette (!!) and omelette surprise) is a dessert made of ice cream placed in a pie dish lined with slices of  cake or Christmas pudding and topped with meringue. The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven for just long enough to firm the meringue. The meringue is an effective insulator, and the short cooking time prevents the heat from getting through to the ice cream. I have to say, it’s cool to put ice cream in a 500 degree oven, and have it not melt.

I read a few baked alaska recipes, and cobbled together what follows. The beauty of baked alaska is that you can make any combo of flavours that takes your fancy – chocolate cake and pecan icecream, brownies and raspberry sorbet, vanilla cake and strawberry icecream… follow your bliss!

Mini baked alaska in 5 steps

(1) pick your fave cupcake or brownie recipe, and bake up some stumps.  You want the baked cake to be only about an inch high, so only use a few generous spoons of batter in each muffin cup. Remember that these will cook faster than a whole cake, so just keep and eye on them. I made a basic fudgey brownie.

(2) once the stumps have cooled, invert them, and pop a small ball of the softened icecream of your choice on top. Make the ice cream slightly smaller than the cake, so that there is room to “stick” the meringue to the cake. Immediately pop into the freezer on a baking sheet.

(3) While the icecream is hardening again, make meringue. I chose to make a version where you heat the eggwhites and sugar together first before whipping, and this made a thick, rich meringue, though less airy than what you might use on a Lemon Meringue pie:

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3 egg whites in large metal bowl (you can also add a little vanilla if you like, and one teaspoon of cream of tartar if you have it). Set bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water and whisk until mixture is very warm, about 2 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Using electric mixer, beat meringue at high speed until very thick and billowy, about 2 minutes.

(4) Pipe! Ok you don’t need to use an icing bag to pipe on the meringue, you could swirl in on with a spoon… but I think they are prettier with the icing tips. So take the cake and icecream out of the fridge, cover each completely with meringue, and then put them back in the freezer, until the meringue is frozen  – about 2 hours, but they will keep for a few days.

(5) Bake! Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Take the BA out of the freezer, and pop them straight into the oven. Watch them carefully – the meringue will brown in 3-5 min. Serve immediately.

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~Yours, from Mazatlan, Deanna

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