Brownie Baked Alaska + Video
Welcome to the June Baking Challenge!
The start of summer can only mean 1 thing: ice cream!!! It was my goal to incorporate ice cream into one of the summer baking challenges, so baked Alaska was an easy choice. Along with many reader requests for the recipe, as well as my own desire to tackle this "difficult" retro dessert, I devoted some time in the kitchen to baked Alaska-ing. 3,845 quarts of ice cream and 2 emergency trips to the grocery store later, let me present you with baked Alaska and baked Alaska cupcakes!
Let's get one thing straight, though...
BETTER WITH BROWNIE
I don't like ice cream cake. I don't like ice cream with my cake and I don't like cake with my ice cream. I understand that's weird because 99% of the world loves cake and ice cream together. But you know what I do like? BROWNIES AND ICE CREAM.
So, bakers, this isn't your typical baked Alaska with sponge cake at the base. This is brownie baked Alaska and after testing both versions, I say with 100% certainty that brownie baked Alaska is both tastier AND easier. I'm equipping you with a full tutorial, recipe, step-by-step photos, and a video to guide you along.
Let's do this.
WHAT IS BAKED ALASKA?
Traditional baked Alaska combines sponge cake, ice cream, and soft marshmallow-y Swiss meringue topping. The meringue topping, applied in decorative peaks and swirls, completely encloses the ice cream underneath. The entire thing is baked or torched until the meringue is toasted. Baked Alaska can even be served flambéed, but I definitely don't trust myself doing that! The ice cream doesn't initially melt under the protective meringue shell, but will begin to deliciously drop down into the brownie once served. Baked Alaska is an impressive dessert and, like I said above, so darn good with a brownie base!
THE ICE CREAM
To make the big baked Alaska, soften some ice cream and spread it into a 9-inch 2.5 quart bowl (I recommend the one in this set) and freeze it. I chose mint chocolate chip ice cream for the big baked Alaska and coffee ice cream for the baked Alaska cupcakes. Use whichever flavor, homemade or store-bought, that you love most. Everything tastes good with brownies!!
The bowl molds the ice cream into the dome shape for the baked Alaska dessert. Lining the bowl with plastic wrap, as you watch in my video below, allows for easy removal when it's time to assemble the brownie baked Alaska.
Bake brownies in a 9-inch round cake pan, the perfect size for your 9-inch dome-shaped ice cream. You can use your favorite brownie batter, just make sure it's the appropriate amount for a 9-inch round cake pan. I tested and suggest:
Both brownie recipes are perfect for the brownie baked Alaska cupcakes, too. Cupcake baking time is similar for both recipes and included in the written recipe below.
THE MARSHMALLOW SWISS MERINGUE
I know it should simply be called "meringue" but I feel the need to tell you it tastes like marshmallows. 🙂 Toasted soft and gooey marshmallows, the best part of a campfire s'more. The toasted meringue exterior cracks as you take a bite and soft marshmallow melts down into the ice cream. For this reason, we're applying a thick layer of that glorious marshmallow meringue.
We've made the meringue a few times before:
- s'mores tartlets
- peanut butter hi-hat cupcakes
- s'mores brownie cupcakes
- sky high chocolate mousse pie (this recipe was a baking challenge last year!)
You can watch me prepare the meringue in the helpful video below. Whisk egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar together constantly over a pot of simmering water. The egg whites will gently heat and the sugar will dissolve. The cream of tartar stabilizes and shapes the egg whites, just like we discussed in our angel food cupcakes.
Tip: When gently cooking these 3 ingredients together, simply use a large pot and bowl. You can use the stainless steel bowl that comes with your stand mixer or a glass bowl (I used one from the set I keep recommending). You’ll need your stand mixer in the next step anyway.
Once the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar are gently heated, begin whipping. This step incorporates air into the meringue and after a few minutes, you'll have stiff glossy peaks. Go ahead and taste it. It tastes like homemade marshmallow fluff!!
Spread that marshmallow goodness all over the ice cream and begin torching. I suppose this should be called "torched Alaska" instead? I know plenty of you don't own a kitchen torch, so oven instructions are included in the recipe below. Baking is the more traditional step anyway. (But I will say one thing! Kitchen torches are surprisingly inexpensive for what you get and when my mom offered me hers, I thought to myself... will I ever use this thing?? and the couple times a year that I need it, I'm glad I have one. It really makes a difference!)
AND THE CUPCAKES!!
The mini baked Alaskas are so much fun and, conveniently enough, much quicker and easier.
- no special size bowls required
- no extra freezing
- no extra assembling
Simply scoop any flavor ice cream on top of the baked and cooled brownie cupcakes, then cover with meringue topping. I know many of you will appreciate the simpler cupcake version. And, to be honest, it was fun serving individual baked Alaskas to my friends the other week!!
Want to make the brownie baked Alaska cupcakes even more exciting? Use different flavor ice creams so it's a surprise which flavor you'll get!
Baked Alaska, the big guy or the smaller cupcake version, is wildly fun. If you're looking for a unique dessert with a mega wow factor, this one's it. Everyone... and I mean everyone... was impressed when I served these. Many had no idea there was ice cream hiding underneath and both the adult and kid's eyes widened when I cut into it. MAGIC!!! You can begin preparing it a few days ahead and the meringue-covered Alaska holds up well in the freezer before torching/baking. And using your favorite ice cream flavor is an awesome way to customize it for your crowd.
JOIN THE BAKING CHALLENGE
Jaw-dropping, yet completely approachable Brownie Baked Alaska-- the big version or the cupcake version-- is June's Baking Challenge. I'm excited to see all of your creative baked Alaska desserts including all the fun ice cream flavors!
If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate June Baking Challenge:
After you make the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or Twitter, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me! (You can also message me your photo on Instagram if your account is private.) By doing so, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway!!
Brownie Baked Alaska
- Two 1.5 quarts any flavor ice cream*
- enough brownie batter for 9-inch pan (I suggest this brownie recipe or this brownie recipe)
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Please watch the video tutorial in the blog post to help guide you. Read the recipe in full before beginning as the ice cream is time sensitive.
- Remove ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften on the counter for 10 minutes. As it softens, line a 9-inch 2.5 quart bowl (I recommend the one in this set) with plastic wrap with enough overhang to easily remove the ice cream as a whole once it’s frozen.
- Scoop softened ice cream into another large bowl and using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat until creamy. Spread ice cream into prepared lined bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 8 hours and up to 3 days. I freeze it overnight. The longer it's frozen, the sturdier the cake and neater the slices.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, then line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper as well. The brownie is difficult to remove from the cake pan as a whole without the parchment.
- Pour brownie batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 32-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean without any wet batter. (This brownie recipe is thick and could take a little longer in your oven.) Allow to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, run a knife around the brownie edges, then invert the pan to fully release the brownie as a whole.
- Remove bowl of ice cream from the freezer. Peel back the plastic wrap and place the brownie layer on top (which will be the base of the baked Alaska). Cover back up with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. (Make the meringue while you wait.)
- Make the meringue: Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan filled with two inches of simmering water. Do not let it touch the water. (You can use a double boiler if you have one.) Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixing bowl to an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the vanilla. (FYI I forgot to add it in the video!) Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes until stiff glossy peaks form.
- If using the oven in step 10, preheat oven to 450°F (232°C) now.
- Remove ice cream/brownie from the freezer. Carefully remove from the bowl and peel off the plastic wrap. If using a kitchen torch, invert onto a heatproof serving plate or cake stand. If using the oven, invert onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Spread meringue all over the ice cream, completely enclosing it. Use a spoon to create big peaks and swirls. Make sure there is absolutely no ice cream peeking out. If using the kitchen torch, toast the entire meringue topping. If using the oven, bake in preheated oven for 4-5 minutes until toasted.
- Use a sharp knife (I suggest a serrated knife) to cut thin slices and serve immediately. Store leftovers in the freezer.
Make ahead tip: Step 3 can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Brownie base can be prepared up to 3 days in advance as well. Cover and store at room temperature. My recommendation for making ahead is to assemble the entire brownie baked Alaska with meringue topping, freezing for up to 1-2 days, then torching or baking right before serving. The meringue covered Alaska holds up wonderfully in the freezer and your guests will love to watch the meringue toast! The brownie will be pretty hard, but warms up quickly as you begin slicing.
- Ice cream is sold in 1.5 quart containers. You need 2 for the full baked Alaska. If making the baked Alaska brownie cupcakes, you only need 1. See next recipe note for baked Alaska brownie cupcakes.
- To make baked Alaska brownie cupcakes, line 12-count muffin pan with liners. Pour brownie batter evenly into each, filling about ¾ full. Line a 2nd muffin pan with liners if there’s extra batter. (This brownie recipe makes about 14 and this brownie recipe makes about 18.) Bake either recipe for 22-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean without any wet batter. Allow brownie cupcakes to cool completely (in the pan or out of the pan, doesn’t matter!). Once cool, unwrap each. Make meringue as directed in step 7. Top brownie cupcakes with a scoop of ice cream. Continue with step 10.
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