Valentine's Fire Starter: Flaming Baked Alaska

Whoa! Have you ever seen a real live flaming Baked Alaska? This retro dessert was out of the realm of our experience, until reader Catherine shared hers with us. Read on to hear more about this old-school dessert and its dramatic impact. Anyone really trying to impress a Valentine this weekend?

Here's Catherine:

When a friend offered to host our Austin Urban Family (aka city friends) for a pitch-in meal, I knew I would try an over the top new recipe. I've been meaning to make Baked Alaska for some time. The appeal of what I consider an uber 60's housewife dish was too much to pass up. Plus, a flaming dessert has so much crowd appeal, especially when the flames were at my friend Kristi's house and not in my newly renovated kitchen!

The recipe is adapted from the cookbook Dishing with Kathy Casey: Food, Fun & Cocktails from Seattle's Culinary Diva. This is a favorite cookbook of mine and I love all her recipes that I have tried (try her Billowing Strawberry Poppy Seed Layer Cake this spring).

I opted for a huge mound of Baked Alaska rather than individual ramekins, since I wanted a grand presentation. I made the Devil's Food Cake and opted to skip trimming the edges. The cake was a bit flat in the middle, which was perfect to fill with the ice cream dome. Coffee ice cream was substituted because Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream is divine and sounded the best of the options at the grocery.

I recommend thawing the ice cream until it is still very cold but can be stirred. Dump it directly onto the cake and mold from there. Much less hassle than cutting away the container and messing with saran wrap. This is the hardest part of the recipe and only because it can be a tad messy when you get your hands covered with drippy ice cream.

Copper bowls for meringue are great and luckily this recipe broke in our new wedding gift! Scooping the white fluff out by hand and covering the cake and ice cream dome was fun and easy to make pretty peaks that get charred when lighting the concoction on fire. I do recommend using a wide plate with a bit of a lip or placing a jelly-roll pan under the dish when baking, if not the drips can cause a bit of a mess.

We used a whole ladle full of 151 rum, which you can see in my hand. Maybe a bit over the top, but so worth it. The flame lasted a good while and when it finally went out we had gooey meringue, chilled firm ice cream, and devils food cake that had a brownie consistency because it was slightly frozen. The dessert was a huge hit with our friends and the leftovers were shockingly good, too bad there was so little left! We'll make this dish again and again.

Thank you Catherine! Kathy's recipe for Flaming Chocolate Praline Alaska isn't online, but here is a somewhat similar recipe at Epicurious:

Coffee Baked Alaska with Mocha Sauce

Related: Good Question: Help! How Do I Caramelize Sugar With a Kitchen Torch?

(Image: Reader Catherine)