Monday, August 15, 2005

Baked Alaska with Peach Sorbet

I made this dessert for a Turkish blog-event featuring Peach recipes. The preparation is somewhat involved, but those of you who do not have to rush like me to meet a deadline can plan it over several days, and actually have fun making it.

I always wanted to make a baked Alaska, although the thought of using raw egg whites for the meringue topping kept bothering me. So, when I found out a few days ago that you can actually cook your meringue, I knew that it was time to try this classical summer dessert.

The Italian meringue took quite long to make, but otherwise, no difficulties were encountered during preparation. My Chef's torch came in very handy both to remove the frozen ice cream from the bombe mold and to finish off the cake. (However, I realized later that it may be even easier to line the mold with plastic wrap, so that's how I wrote down the recipe.) The result was definitely more than the sum of its parts, a refreshing dessert with a nice presentation.

  • 8" cake layer for base (recipe below)
  • 1 3/4 qt vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Peach sorbe, softened (recipe below)
  • Handful of shelled pistachios or almonds
  • Italian meringue topping (recipe below)
Spray the inside of an 8" bombe mold with cooking spray and line it with plastic wrap. Pack the base of the mold with vanilla ice cream. Scatter the nuts on top of the ice cream layer. Freeze until firm, then layer the peach sorbet on top of the vanilla ice cream. Smooth layers and freeze several hours or until very firm.

Place your cake layer on a baking sheet. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and invert the mold over the cake. Keep covered with plastic wrap and return to freezer.

Shortly before serving, preheat the oven to 425F. Take the cake out of the freezer and remove the wrap. Cover it completely with Italian meringue making sure that no ice cream is visible. Bake until the meringue is nicely colored. This should not take more than a couple of minutes. You can also use your kitchen torch like I did. But be more patient than me and keep at it to get a nicely browned topping.

Butter Cake Layer: from Sunset's Easy Basics for Good Cooking
  • 2 1/2 c sifted cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
(This makes more cake than you would need. You can cut it into layers, use one and freeze the leftovers.) Preheat oven to 375F. Grease and flour an 8" cake pan. Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and 2/3 c milk. With an electric mixer, beat slowly at first to mix the ingredients, and at a medium speed later for about 2 minutes to build structure. Add the eggs, rest of the milk and vanilla; and continue beating for another 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until the cake browns on top and the sides start to pull away from the sides. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Peach Sorbet:
from National Peach Council
  • 1 1/2b fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c water
Put peaches and juices into a blender or food processor. Process until peaches are pureed. You should have approximately 2 1/2 c peach puree. Meanwhile, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Combine the puree and sugar syrup and follow manufacturer's directions to freeze it in your ice cream machine. Alternatively, pour the mixture in a shallow pan and put it in your freezer for at least 3 hours. During the freezing process, stir several times to prevent the formation of large ice crystals.

Italian Meringue:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 8-10 tbs sugar
  • 4 tbs water
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Set the bowl in a pan of simmering water and beat with an electric mixer until the temperature of the meringue reaches 160F. Remove from the pan of simmering water, and continue beating until it cools down to room temperature. (Transferring it to a Kitchenaid mixer at this point may save your arm.)