Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Top 10 "Most Difficult" Recipes: #8 Baked Alaska
Total Batches: One
Time: 24 hours
Difficulty: Making it is easy, photographing it before it turns into a puddle is difficult.
Still working my way through the most difficult recipes. I've been looking forward to doing the baked Alaska, it is just so fun to make and eat.
Mr. Humble is actually pretty grumpy he isn't home right now to share this dessert. Though, I do have the components ready in the freezer for a second baked Alaska all ready to go. Maybe I could bake a second, you know, if somebody does all the dishes tonight...
Anyway, I'm not sure if this recipe deserves the title 'most difficult'. All things considered, it really isn't that hard. The trick is having everything frozen solid before covering it with meringue and transferring it to the oven. The meringue acts as an insulator and keeps the ice cream cold throughout the baking.
This version of baked Alaska uses orange ice cream atop a brownie in a pool of dark chocolate sauce. Feel free to substitute store bought orange sorbet for the ice cream if you lack an ice cream maker. You simply need to soften the sorbet/ice cream and fill a mold and let it freeze until solid (usually overnight).
Hemisphere molds are commonly used for baked Alaska. Though, once you take a simple stainless bowl and slap the name 'hemisphere mold' on it, they get expensive. I'm not really sure why, they're absurdly priced at my local baking store. However, I found some inexpensive metal bowls that can serve the same purpose at Ikea and for a lot less. Metal hemisphere molds are not a requirement for this recipe, you can chill your ice cream in any container you wish, lined with a little plastic wrap for easy removal.
The Day before:
Orange Ice Cream
Yields enough for two 5" hemisphere molds (roughly 1.2 quarts)
1 cup frozen orange concentrate
2 1/2 cups heavy cream (ideally 40% milk fat)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup + one tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 drop orange gel food coloring (optional)
Place your molds into the freezer to chill.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.
When the ice cream is done, divide between your molds (if using a ceramic or plastic mold line with a bit of plastic wrap). Press a little plastic wrap onto the surface of the ice cream and freeze until solid (this will take at least overnight).
The Next Day:
Start by preparing the dark chocolate sauce:
Fran's Deepest, Darkest Chocolate Sauce
from Pure Chocolate
yields 1 1/2 cups
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup corn syrup (or liquid glucose)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
Add the cocoa to a large heat-safe mixing bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and sugar and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the corn syrup and then bring to a boil over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture into the bowl with your cocoa. Whisk by hand until smooth and then add the remaining cream. Whisk the mixture until uniform and then strain though a fine sieve back into the sauce pan.
Cook the mixture over low heat until glossy and large bubbles form (roughly 5 minutes).
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.
Store any extra sauce in an air tight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Now you're ready to prep the ice cream (provided it is frozen solid).
Warm the molds in a little hot water to melt the surface and press them out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Or, if they were lined with plastic wrap, use that to remove from the mold.
Place the unmolded ice cream into the freezer once again and chill until solid.
Bake a pan of brownies (I'm using Ghirardelli brownie mix because I'm an unforgivably lazy food blogger today) and cut out 5" rounds, one for each mold. Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes.
When the 30 minutes is up, preheat the oven to 345°F and whip up the meringue.
yields enough for two 5" baked Alaskas
6 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
In large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture forms stiff but still glossy peaks.
To assemble the baked Alaskas, place the brownie onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Working quickly, top the brownie with the orange ice cream and slather on a thick layer of meringue.
Now some freeze the baked Alaska for a couple hours before baking. However I don't like my meringue frozen, so I bake immediately for 10 minutes or until the meringue has a golden blush. If you're ice cream is solid and you work quickly, baking it immediately will not be a problem.
To serve, coat a plate with the prepared chocolate sauce and place the baked Alaska in the center. Serve immediately.
One 5" baked Alaska should serve 2-4.