Making meringue for a baked Alaska or lemon meringue pie looks difficult, but all you really need is a nice heavy pot, a good mixer and a candy thermometer which you can purchase at any local hardware store.
My individual baked Alaskas made with a brown sugar meringue. To give the meringue a little extra depth, I use brown sugar instead of traditional white sugar.
I make this as individual Alaskas so each guest can have their own. As for the kitchen torch, I also purchased that at our local hardware store! The larger torch actually is the same price as the small torches sold in specialty kitchen stores, but lasts much longer because of the larger tank. Also much more impressive when torching the Alaskas in front of guests! Bon Appetit!
For the Alaska base
- one small pound cake or sheet cake (I use either white pound cake if using a light colored ice cream of make a simple boxed chocolate cake on a cookie pan with 2 inch sides for the cake base for a chocolate ice cream.)
- one quart of nice quality ice cream (in the recipe below, I am using chocolate caramel cashew ice cream but you can select any ice cream you like!)
For the meringue
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- water (see instructions in recipe)
- 8 large egg whites (it is important that absolutely no yolk is in the whites)
- a pinch of cream of tartar
For the garnish
- caramel sauce
- creme Anglaise sauce (which I use for the “hearts”)
- Fresh fruit as desired
To prepare the base of the Alaskas
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut out 10 small rounds of cake. I use a small round cookie cutter for this. If the cakes are too high, simply cut them in half. Freeze any remaining cake for later used.
Take a small ice cream scoop and place scoops of your selected ice cream on top of each cake round.
Freeze while making the meringue.
Place the brown sugar in a heavy sauce pan. Avoid using aluminum pans as the sugar reacts poorly to that surface and can crystalize. Place enough water over the sugar to “barely” cover.
Place on medium heat and put a candy thermometer in the mixture. Bring to a controlled boil and boil, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 245 degrees.
While you are getting the sugar to the right temperature, start beating your egg whites.
Place the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer. Place a pinch of cream or tartar into the whites. Beat the whites with the whip attachment until very stiff. If the whites are done before your sugar, simply put your mixer on a very low speed until the sugar is ready.
With the mixture on medium low, very carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the whites. When all of the sugar has been placed in the whites, but the mixer back on high. The hot sugar will “cook” your whites to a safe temperature.
When the bowl of your mixer is cool to the touch, your meringue is done. I simply place my hands under the mixer, and if it seems like it has cooled down, I know the meringue is done. This usually takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
Place the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
Remove the frozen Alaska bases from the freezer. Carefully pipe the meringue on to each base, starting from the bottom and working your way up. When all of them have been encased in meringue, return them to the freezer.
Using a small torch, carefully “toast” all the sides of the Alaska.
Place caramel sauce around the Alaskas
You can use other sauces to compliment your particular flavor such as strawberry, raspberry or chocolate sauce.
Dust final Alaska with powdered sugar and decorate with fresh fruit if desired.