Okay, so this was a stressful undertaking. But about 50% of that stress was completely self-imposed and unwarranted because I expected it to be stressful. From the moment I learned what a Baked Alaska was, it seemed people were lining up to tell me not to make it. Not in a “your thighs will never forgive you” sort of way, but in a “you’ll have to scrape your self-esteem off of the kitchen floor” way. It’s been relayed in a hundred different ways and through a multitude of mediums: Baked Alaskas are difficult. So, naturally, I was a hair afraid of this dessert.Jump to Recipe
Obviously, I went for it anyway. And yes, today’s Baked Alaska wasn’t exactly a stroll in the park but it also wasn’t a traumatizing feat. It would’ve been even easier if I hadn’t been so worked up about it. I had no reason to freak out, I had made all the components of a Baked Alaska separately numerous times. Honestly, if you can make ice cream, meringue, and cake, you’re more than qualified to make a Baked Alaska and don’t let anyone tell you different. In fact, the hardest part of making this Baked Alaska was shooting it and normal people, like you, don’t have to do that. So, forget what you’ve heard – let’s make this Baked Alaska with Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream and Pistachio Cake.
Now, when it comes to executing a Baked Alaska, timing is everything…Maybe that’s comedy – I clearly wouldn’t know. But it is also important with this dish because it is essentially three desserts plopped on top of each other. Not an attractive way to describe this dessert but an accurate one. And to add another wrinkle to an already jowly undertaking, each component requires very different timelines. Ice cream, for instance, needs excessive chilling time and I don’t think I have to explain the concept of cake hot from the oven. And meringue? Well, it’s not exactly known for its durability.
So yes, those buzzkills who warned you about this fabulous dessert – because let’s face it, it’s pretty fabulous – weren’t completely full of sh*t. But a delicate order of things, does not an impossible dessert make. You just have to go full nerd on this sucka. Make a timetable…What? I am completely, deadly serious. Write out your approach and stick to it.
I, for one, made the ice cream, froze it overnight, softened it the following day and piled it into a bowl lined with plastic wrap. I put it in the freezer to solidify overnight. And once it was safely tucked into its frosty home, I made the cake and refrigerated that overnight as well. The next day I trimmed the cake to fit the dimensions of the ice cream dome and whipped up my meringue. I then retrieve the dome from the freezer and plopped it on the cake and slathered it with the meringue. Then, I torched it. Easy!
If you read that paragraph and thought it didn’t sound “easy”, I think you should know that the schedule above requires less than an hour of work each day. And a lot of it, like churning ice cream, requires no effort on your part. This is totally doable. Even with a full-time job. I will say, you may want to spend some time cleaning out your freezer to accommodate your ice cream dome ahead of time. And depending on the state of your freezer this could take you anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Guess how long it took me.
Now, you’ll notice I’ve included a recipe for Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream below. This is very optional. You can totally make a Baked Alaska with your favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s and I won’t even be mad. I know how good Half Baked is. Heck! You could forget about the Pistachio Cake too and grab a pound cake from your local grocery store. You can make this as easy on yourself as you care to.
One another thing I’d like to note is I went through an absurd amount of trouble blanching my own pistachios. This is unnecessary if you are a normal person who doesn’t photograph their desserts on a daily basis. The flavor and the color of the pistachios are more intense when they’re blanched. I didn’t use any food coloring to achieve the hue of the cake pictured. But if you’re planning on destroying this Baked Alaska with your nearest and dearest it really doesn’t matter how green your cake is. But if it does matter to you, put on a good podcast or TV show and blanch those b*tches. Oh, and thank you for being one of my people.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Baked Alaska with Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream and Pistachio Cake. Don’t let it intimidate you, you’re a lot smarter than it – it hasn’t even achieved sentience.
Baked Alaska with Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream & Pistachio Cake
- Ice Cream Maker
- Kitchen Torch
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
- 1 pint strawberries hulled and halved
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar divided
- 1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios blanched
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp full fat yogurt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 egg whites room temperature
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
For the Ice Cream
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- Place the strawberries in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and a 1/4 cup of the sugar. Toss to coat. Transfer the berries to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the berries for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Transfer the berries, juice and all, to a fine mesh strainer. Force any remaining juice out by pressing the berries with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Set the juice and the mashed berries aside to cool completely.
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Heat the milk until steam settles on the surface. Remove from the heat.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk to combine the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the egg yolks turn a paler shade of yellow.
- Pour half of the warmed milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and return the pan to the heat. Cook the custard until it thickens slightly, about 8 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in the whipping cream and the strawberry juice. Transfer the mixture to the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
- Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice maker and churn for 30 minutes. In the last five minutes of churning, spoon in the berry mush until it is swirled throughout. Spoon the finished ice cream into a 8×8 pan or loaf pan and cover. Freeze overnight.
- The next morning, place the ice cream on the counter for 15 minutes to soften. Spray a 6" bowl with non-stick spray and line with plastic wrap. Spoon the softened ice cream into the bowl and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Cover the surface and return the ice cream to the fridge. Let set overnight.
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 6" cake pan and line the base with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until they resemble a fine meal. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl and sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the butter into the sugar on a medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs to the bowl one at a time followed by the yogurt. Set the mixer to its lowest speed and add the dry ingredients to the wet. Beat until a smooth batter forms.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and transfer to the oven. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and removed cleanly.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling wrack to cool completely. Once cool, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
For the Meringue and Assembly
- Pour the water and sugar into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until the mixture registers 240°F on a candy thermometer. Don't stir the sugar mixture.
- While the sugar mixture is coming up to temperature, pour the egg whites and lemon juice into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.
- Once the sugar mixture has reached 240°F and the egg whites are forming soft peaks, set the mixer to medium speed and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. Try to drizzle the sugar mixture down the side of the mixing bowl, so it doesn't splash everywhere. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Working quickly, trim the pistachio cake and place it on a cake stand. Take the ice cream dome out of the freezer and extract it from the bowl. Place the dome on top of the cake before removing the plastic wrap.
- Using an offset spatula, coat the cake and ice cream with the meringue until fully encased. Using a kitchen torch, toast the surface of the meringue until golden brown. Serve immediately.