Makes 4 portions
Molded Ice Cream:
2 pints of favored ice cream - one to three flavors. If using 2 flavors, use 1½ pints of the main flavor and ½ pint of the contrasting flavor. If using 3 flavors, use 1¼ pints of main flavor, ¼ pint of the second flavor, and ½ pint of the third
Plain pound cake or brownies - enough to cover the base of the ice cream mold
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (only if not using a copper bowl to mix meringue)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup Grand Marnier
raspberries, candied orange slices (optional)
1. Select a metal or ceramic bowl to become your mold that has at least a one-quart capacity and a shape you like. Chill this bowl in the freezer for about an hour. Remove the ice cream from the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
2. Working quickly but neatly, add half of the "main" flavor of ice cream to the bottom of the mold. Add the contrasting flavor on top. If using a third flavor, layer it here. Add the remaining main flavor to cover and enclose the contrasting flavor (s) which will now be in the center of the mold. Smooth the ice cream and return mold to the freezer, well covered.
3. A few hours before serving (up to a day ahead) arrange thin brownie slices or slices of pound cake on a plate or platter in approximately the shape of the ice cream mold. Fill a bowl large enough to place the ice cream mold in with hot water. Working quickly but neatly remove the ice cream mold from the freezer, place it briefly in the hot water, run a knife around the ice cream, and unmold the ice cream onto the cake. Return unmolded ice cream and cake immediately to the freezer.
4. Make the meringue. Fill a saucepan sized to hold a mixing bowl double-boiler style with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Add the egg whites, cream of tartar if using, and sugar to a very clean mixing bowl (any oil in the bowl will prevent the whites from forming a firm meringue). Whisk continuously over the hot water until the sugar is well dissolved and the meringue is thickening. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla and continue to beat vigorously until the meringue holds its shape and is quite glossy and cool.
5. Remove the unmolded ice cream from the freezer. Trim any cake away as needed. With a spatula spread a layer of meringue around the entire mold, carefully ensuring that all the ice cream is well covered and that the seam between the cake and the ice cream is sealed with meringue. The meringue will insulate the ice cream when the meringue is browned. Make decorative swirls or peaks using a knife or spatula, or place some of the meringue in a pastry bag fitted out with star or shell tip and add peaked flourishes as desired. A simple, swirling, snow-covered mountain looks great and is easily achieved. Return the meringue-covered ice cream to the freezer until just before serving. Ideally, this meringue is completed before dinner, not much more than 4 hours before dessert.
6. To serve: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place meringue-covered ice cream cake on a cool, heatproof serving plate. Put Grand Marnier in a very small saucepan over very low heat. Turn off the lights in the dining room. Have matches ready. Put the unbaked Alaska into the hot oven for 1-3 minutes until just lightly browned. Bring to the table along with the warmed Grand Marnier. Light the Grand Marnier in the pan and pour this flaming alcohol onto and around the Baked Alaska. The alcohol will burn away quickly as it continues to brown the meringue. Once the flames subside, dig in.
- Anna Herman, annasedibleadventures.com