Mini-Martha is having a birthday next week. To celebrate, he had some friends over last night. I approached the cake topic cautiously. I have made lots of crazy things for my kids’ birthdays – a brownie pizza, a spaghetti and meatballs cake (for an April Fool’s Day theme), pumpkin pie, strawberry pie, a bowling pins and bowling ball shaped group of cakes, red velvet cake – you name it. I have also purchased grocery store cakes (I know! The sheer horror of it). I wasn’t sure what he wanted this time around. I suggested baked Alaska and once I showed him the photo in Martha Stewart Living (January issue) he was hooked!
I made baked Alaska once many moons ago when Mr. MarthaAndMe were dating. Clearly it convinced him to marry me. When I made it before, I am pretty sure I made one big one. Martha advocates small individual Alaskas.
Now, what kind of a fool am I to think I should make baked Alaska for a group of 10 and 11 year old boys, to be served after an excursion to Dave and Buster’s (gaming place)? A big silly one I guess.
I made the cake the day before. What a strange cake this was – you beat egg yolks with sugar then add chocolate. Separately you beat 12 egg whites with sugar till they make peaks. Then you fold it all together. There is no flour, but you absolutely would never guess that when you taste it. You cut out circles from the cake. There is a LOT left over and you can’t really do much with it since it is scraps.
You coat small bowls with plastic wrap then layer strawberry and vanilla ice cream into them. You place a cake circle on top. The recipe does not say this, but you really have to press that cake circle down into the ice cream so it will adhere. I had a couple where I did not press hard enough and it did not attach. You then wrap it up and freeze it. I
did all this the day before.
The night of the party (after returning from the headache inducing Dave and Busters at 9 pm) I made the meringue. You beat egg whites then add a syrup you cooked using a candy thermometer. The egg whites turn a pale caramel color once you add the syrup. The recipe says to add the syrup slowly, but I would say to be careful not to add it too slowly – I had some syrup crystallizing on the side of the
bowl and I had to pick it out.
Ok, so once the meringue is ready, you’re supposed to pop the desserts out of their molds. The recipe says to let them sit for a few minutes and then they will come right out. Yeah, right. We ended up dipping the bottoms of the molds into hot water to get them to loosen. Once we did that, they did pop right out and you could easily peel the plastic wrap off.
Then I spread the meringue over them. This is where things started to get
loony, in more ways than one. As I am frantically trying to get this together and into the oven before it melts, it is announced that one of the party guests is having an allergy attack and needs meds. I am not about to hand out Zyrtec without parental permission, so Mr. MarthaAndMe had to make the call to get clearance while I worked on dessert.
There was definitely not enough meringue. Double the meringue recipe for this if you make this. I had ice cream peeking out and meringue that was too thin. You really want a nice thick layer of meringue in my opinion.
The recipe says to preheat the oven to 500 degrees and put the desserts in for 2 minutes (you can also use a blow torch, but oddly enough, I just don’t have one laying around). This oven setting was not a good idea.
Everything started to melt and the meringue was not cooking. Disaster in the making! I quickly switched over to broil and that did the trick. So, my recommendation is to broil not bake!
Despite the melting situation, these turned out pretty well. The meringue was SO good, even if it did kind of slide off some of the desserts. It was crunchy, sweet and delicious and in nice contrast to the ice cream. Most of the ice cream was intact and the cake on the bottom was good. I served this with chocolate sauce, which really added to it, so I highly
I mentioned to some people that I was making this and they asked if it was going to be flaming. Apparently, they serve this on cruise ships and set it on fire (they must put alcohol on it to do this, I imagine). So, no, there was nothing flaming at this party, but I think it was a hit. Everyone scraped their plates clean and I think I got points for the novelty factor. And really, you can’t go wrong with cake and ice cream, which is what this basically is.