A couple of days before Easter we still had no idea what to make for our dinner, all we knew is that we would be cooking something together. We ended up with two recipes that are already in the blog: a rack of lamb with cranberry reduction sauce, and a mushroom soufflé.  We rarely make dessert for just the two of us, so at first we considered skipping it altogether. Then Phil mentioned that there was one particular dessert he had only enjoyed a few times, always in restaurants and maybe I could try and make it for us. He added “it may be a bit involved, though.”  Visions of a six-layer coconut cake flashed in my  imagination, but he definitely had something quite unexpected in mind: Baked Alaska!  My gosh, the last time I had it I was a teenager in Brazil, so that’s a little more than five years ago (wink, wink)…  We had this conversation 24 hours before Easter dinner, so I felt a rush of adrenaline pumping in my veins, and went to work. By work I mean “furiously googling.” I found the perfect recipe in a blog called “Dessert for Two.” How appropriate! It’s a great blog, by the way, make sure to visit… It goes without saying that Baked Alaska doesn’t keep very well, so making a small batch just for the occasion was a must. This was super fun to make and I must say one of the most delicious sweets made in our kitchen. You could of course double or triple the recipe, keeping the amount of meringue unchanged (it made more than needed for two small servings).

Baked Alaska2

(from Dessert for Two)

for the cake base:
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

for assembling the Alaskas:
1 pint ice cream of your choice
3 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Use a 9 x 5″ metal bread loaf pan for this recipe; it needs to have sharp corners. Do not use ceramic bakeware with rounded corners. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Trim it very well to fit perfectly. Do not grease the pan in any way.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and cornstarch twice.

In a separate bowl, combine the granulated sugar and egg. Beat on high-speed until it reaches the consistency of soft whipped cream. This can take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. It will be fluffy and pale yellow with soft, floppy peaks. Melt the butter and milk together in the microwave. Stir in the almond extract

Fold one-third of the flour mixture into the eggs. Take your time and do this carefully until all of the flour mixture is incorporated, adding 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time. Finally, stir in the hot milk and butter mixture all at once and fold in well. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, run a knife along the edges of the pan and invert the cake carefully onto a cooling rack. Gently peel the parchment paper off, but if any more than a thin layer of cake sticks to it, let it cool completely before pulling it off. You can make the sponge cake the day before.

Scoop two perfect spheres of the sorbet by using an ice cream scoop. Level off the surface of the sorbet with the scoop to make a flat bottom.  Move the sorbet scoops to cupcake liners (or parchment paper) and freeze until very firm.

To assemble, use the edges of your ice cream scoop to cut out perfect-sized rounds of sponge cake. Top each cake round with one of the sorbet scoops. Place back in the freezer. Next, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl on high-speed until soft peaks start to form. Stream in the sugar and beat until combined. Don’t beat the egg whites past the point of soft peaks.  When ready to serve, pipe the egg whites (or use a spoon) over the sorbet mounds. Use a fork to make ridges in the egg whites.

Using a culinary torch, brûlée the egg whites and serve the dessert immediately.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  I never imagined I would re-visit a cake that is pretty much like a genoise, my nemesis. And, to make matters worse, this one was baked in a tiny loaf pan. But, I must say it all went flawlessly, which worries me a little. Next time I bake a cake, I will pay my dues to the universe, obviously.  I wish I had more pictures of the whole process, including the drawing of circles in parchment paper to cut the base, but things were a bit frantic as they always are when I’m around cake batter.

When I make these again (and I definitely will), I might omit or reduce the almond extract because I felt it was too prominent in the final cake. However it is quite possible that the smell of the extract was too vivid in my mind. It is so potent! Phil did not feel the same way at all, he thought the cake was perfect. Still, I would like to try a little bit of Fiori di Sicilia instead of almond just for a change. As to the ice cream component, I went with two different flavors that we shared: the first Alaska made with Dulce de Leche because to me that is the flavor numero uno in the known universe. And the second one was White Chocolate-Raspberry-Truffle. I know. Your knees just got a bit weak, right? Mine too…

The contrast of slightly warm and toasted meringue, cold ice cream, with the base of the cake is a complete feast, perfect way to end a romantic meal, if you ask me.  Plus, it is a reasonably small portion that will not make you sit down at the sofa, tilt your head back and start snoring, possibly drooling. Nope.  The rest of your evening will be safe…

Baked Alaska

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Three days, three posts!  In my series of collaborative articles with Jamie, from Cooking in Red Socks, it is now time to share the dessert course of our romantic meal for two. But, before I do that, let me urge you to visit her site and check out her choice for the last course of her V-day extravaganza! She pulled all the stops and made some seriously gorgeous Strawberry Napoleons, heart shaped and all.  I am in complete awe! Wish I was one of the guests in her party… 😉

Now, to the finale of my dinner for two. It was hard for me not to think about chocolate when choosing a dessert for Valentine’s Day. Having settled on that, I needed something red and sexy to pair it with. Red and sexy like raspberries. All lightly dusted with a very light sprinkle of powdered sugar. For good measure.

(from Good Food Magazine, May 2010)

85g dark chocolate, 70% (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp espresso powder (I used Spice House
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
boiling water (enough to use 2 tablespoons)
1 tbsp sugar
50g full-fat Greek yogurt
raspberries, to decorate
powdered sugar

Chop the chocolate very finely and put it into a large bowl that will fit over a pan of simmering water. Mix the cocoa, coffee and vanilla with 2 tbsp cold water, and pour over the chocolate. Place the bowl over simmering water, give it all a stir, then remove from the heat. Leave the bowl still over the hot water, stirring occasionally until fully melted.  If necessary, place the water back on the stove for a minute or so.

Stir the melted chocolate, it will be quite thick. Stir in 2 tbsp boiling water and the chocolate will immediately thin down and become silky smooth. Leave to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites to fairly soft peaks, then whisk in the sugar until thick and glossy. Beat the yogurt into the cooled chocolate. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mix using a large metal spoon, then very gently fold in the rest of the whites until they are evenly mixed in.

Spoon into 4 small cups or ramekins and chill for a couple of hours, or overnight.  Top with a few raspberries, then dust with a little powdered sugar.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  As far as chocolate mousse goes, this is one of the lightest options you will find. Because our cups were a bit large, the recipe made only two portions, each one  perfect to be shared.  As a result, we enjoyed this dessert two days in a row. Naughty naughty naughty…

The yogurt gives the mousse a little bit of a tang, cutting the richness of the chocolate.  If you are fond of that super rich feeling of a regular mousse, this could be too light for you.  But, if you rather play conservative with your sweets, this is a perfect way to end a romantic dinner.

Make sure to stop by Jamie’s site to see what she is sharing with her friends.


Jamie, it was great to collaborate with you on this joint virtual project!
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebration!

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