Mini Baked Alaskas

published Jun 11, 2020
summer
Mini Baked Alaskas

Inidividual mini baked Alaskas with tender cake, an ice cream center, and torched meringue to cover it all.

Serves8

Prep35 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Mini Baked Alaska cut in half on a pink dessert plate and spoon
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot"

When I think of baked Alaskas, my mind immediately jumps to a bygone era where people dressed up in fancy clothes to eat at big hotel restaurants. But the famed dessert — a combo of cake and ice cream covered with a pillowy cloud of torched meringue — should absolutely be made at home. These mini, individually sized baked Alaskas are both a cooking and a science project — perfect when you’re homebound and need a delicious pick-me-up that has some bonus learning involved. Plus, everyone gets to choose their own flavor.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot"

The Science Behind Baked Alaskas

When little and grown-up friends came over to help eat my mini baked Alaskas (before COVID-19), they mentioned that this recipe was a project in one of their kids’ science books. Why baked Alaska? Because it teaches about insulators: the ice cream in the center doesn’t melt because the meringue surrounding it acts as insulation, even as it gets broiled or torched. It’s a science experiment with the best possible outcome: You get to eat dessert! And if you want to pile some more learning on, NPR has a great read about the history of baked Alaskas.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot"

Why Mini Baked Alaskas?

While you can make one giant baked Alaska that gets served in slices, it’s just as easy to make individual ones. The best part about this is that you can customize the flavor of ice cream in each one. You’ll start by baking a 9×13-inch cake. While the cake is cooling, pre-scoop the ice cream, then place the scoops back in the freezer so that they are nice and hard when it comes time for assembly.

When you’re ready to serve, make the meringue, cut rounds out of the cake slab, and then assemble: cake on the bottom, ice cream scoop on top, and billowy meringue to cover it all. A quick trip under the broiler or the blast of a kitchen torch browns the meringue, and voila! Mini baked Alaskas that are a marvel in contrasts: soft toasted meringue, cold ice cream in the center, and tender cake to soak it all up. 

Mini Baked Alaskas

Inidividual mini baked Alaskas with tender cake, an ice cream center, and torched meringue to cover it all.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • Cooking spray or unsalted butter, for coating the pan

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    whole or 2% milk

For the ice cream and meringue:

  • 6

    large egg whites, at room temperature

  • 2 pints

    ice cream

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cream of tartar

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and let it sit out at room temperature until softened. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Let the 6 large egg whites for the meringue sit out at room temperature.

  2. Make the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.

  3. Add 1 cup granulated sugar to the bowl of butter and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Turn the mixer off and add 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer still running, gradually add 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk and continue mixing until the batter is completely smooth, scraping down the sides halfway through mixing, 2 to 3 minutes total. The batter will be thick.

  5. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Meanwhile, prepare the ice cream.

  6. Freeze the ice cream scoops: Scoop 8 (about 2 1/4-inch wide, about 1/3 cup each) scoops out of 2 pints of ice cream onto a baking sheet, making sure each scoop is flat on the bottom. Place back in the freezer until ready to assemble.

  7. Make the meringue: Place the 6 egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and whip on medium-high speed until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar. Beat until the meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.

  8. Assemble the baked Alaskas: Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. If browning with the broiler, arrange an oven rack 7 inches below the broiling element and set the oven to broil.

  9. Remove the cake slab from the pan and discard the parchment. Use a 3-inch round cutter to punch out 8 rounds of cake. Place the cake rounds on the baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart.

  10. Top each cake round with a scoop of ice cream. Working quickly, evenly divide and dollop the meringue onto the ice cream scoops (about 3/4 cup per baked Alaska). Use an offset spatula or table knife to spread the meringue over each cake and ice cream dome, completely covering it. Use the tip of the offset spatula to create tall peaks in the meringue that will brown when torched.

  11. Toast the meringue: Broil just until the meringue begins to brown, rotating the baking sheet as needed, 1 to 3 minutes total. Alternatively, toast the meringue with a kitchen torch so the peaks are lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The baked, cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated 1 day in advance, or frozen up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.