From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The Silver Fox and I will be celebrating a landmark anniversary next weekend. I'll not be cooking for the occasion but in anticipation of the event, he asked me to make a Baked Alaska for him. I was more than happy to oblige because it gave me an excuse to make one of my favorite ice creams, a smooth and rich rum raisin concoction that is made with the world's happiest raisins. You'd be happy, too, if you spent a day immersed in that amount of rum. Baked Alaska is an old dessert that is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. It sounds difficult to make but nothing could be farther from the truth. The dessert has three distinct stages and all but the final toasting can be done a day ahead of time. I made the ice cream and the sponge layer for the cake I'm featuring tonight, but both could have been purchased at the grocery store and used in the assembly of the baked Alaska. Time is the only trick to successfully making this dessert. I generally assemble the cake, including the unbaked meringue covering, the day before I plan to serve it. It goes into the freezer and stays there until 15 minutes before I plan to put it in the oven. It takes minutes to brown the meringue, and because this is such a festive dessert I go one step further and flame it at the table. Children, and the Silver Fox, love this dessert. It is amazingly versatile and any flavor cake or ice cream can be used to assemble it. If you are looking for something that is festive and a bit out of the ordinary, do give this recipe a try. The ice cream, which comes from Saveur magazine, is especially delicious. Here is how the Baked Alaska is made.
Rum Raisin Ice Cream...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Saveur magazine
1 cup raisins
1 cup dark rum
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1) Place raisins and rum in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until raisins soften and absorb rum, at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons rum. Set raisins and rum aside.
2) Place sugar and yolks in a large saucepan and whisk until pale yellow and lightened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add milk, and stir until smooth. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens and coats back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in drained raisins along with reserved rum, cream, and vanilla. Cover custard with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of custard, and refrigerate until chilled.
3) Pour custard into an ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer's instructions until churned and thick. Line a 7″-diameter bowl with a 15″ piece of plastic wrap, allowing excess to hang over rim of bowl. Pack ice cream into bowl, smoothing top, and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. Yield: about 6 cups.
Unsalted butter, for pan
1/2 cup cake flour, plus more for pan
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1) Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8″ round cake pan; set aside.
2) Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3) Beat sugar and eggs in bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Stir in juice and zest and fold in flour. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely, invert onto a rack, and set aside. Yield: 1 layer.
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Place cream of tartar and egg whites in bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until stiff but not dry peaks form.
To serve, place cake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Invert ice cream onto cake and peel off plastic. Cover ice cream and cake with meringue. Bake until meringue begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Using 2 metal spatulas, transfer to a cake plate and serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.
One Year Ago Today: Orange Blossom Tea Cake with Grapes and Olive Oil
Two Years Ago Today: Turkish Shepherd's Salad
Three Years Ago Today: Chocolate Babka
Four Years Ago Today: New England Clam Chowder