This time of year gets so busy, it is very difficult for me to write down anything! But I must share with you one of my all time favorite classic desserts. I don’t believe I have ever seen this offered in any restaurant but it is so easy to make. Sometimes, the intimidation factor kicks in and we overlook something that is easy to prepare. The one thing I like is that this dessert can be prepared a few days ahead of time and stored in the freezer until you are ready to present to the Holiday Guest Table.
The name 'Baked Alaska' was coined at Delmonico's Restaurant in 1876 to honor the recently acquired American territory. A variation called Bombe Alaska calls for some dark rum to be splashed over the Baked Alaska. Lights are then turned down and the whole dessert is flambéed while being served. One safe method of doing this is to reserve one half egg shell from the meringue and nestle the shell in the top of the dessert. Fill with rum. Heat additional rum on the range top, ignite and pour over the dessert at the table. Turn down the lights to dazzle your guests.
The traditional dessert calls for pistachio ice cream. You really need a contrast color on the first layer of ice cream to appreciate the meringue topping. Also, I have made this with strawberry ice cream added with a layer of lemon for a nice color contrast. I couldn’t buy pistachio ice cream locally so I had to make my own using the Cuisinart Ice Cream maker. Handy gadget to have in the kitchen.
Here is my ice cream recipe…very easy and reserve the “boiled” pistachios for adding to your cake batter.
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Pistachio Ice Cream
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 large egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios; toasted, chopped
1-2 drops green food coloring; optional
Finely grind 1 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup sugar in processor. Bring milk and ground pistachio mixture to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat. Mix in almond extract.
Whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Cook over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Strain into large bowl. Chill until cold, about 2 hours.
Stir 1 cup whipping cream and chopped pistachios into custard. Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to container and freeze.
This will not be green like most commercial ice cream preparations. If you would like, a drop or two of green food coloring will give you the color. Use with caution!
Notes: Bon Appétit 01/99
Yield: 3 1/2 cups
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Line your domed bowl with any plastic wrap. This is essential for removal later. Place this ice cream layer in a domed bowl. Freeze until firm. Add second layer of vanilla ice cream for a color contrast.
Prepare or purchase a cake layer. I made a simple chocolate layer and added the reserved pistachios for extra flavor. Freeze until firm. All of this can be done days before your party…just cover and seal tightly. Remove from freezer and place ice cream dome on top of cake layer. If not sized right, you can trim the excess cake away to make the dome a uniform size.
My Swiss Meringue works the best for topping the dessert.
Prepare and “frost” the dome and return to freezer to firm up.
When ready, complete your piping with a large star tip pastry bag. If not, just place the meringue as if you were doing a lemon meringue pie.
Preheat oven to 550F. Place in oven for six to eight minutes, watching very closely. The meringue will insulate the ice cream very well. After the oven, it can cool and ice cream will remain frozen for a half hour or more.
Present table-side for your guests to enjoy!!
andEnjoy YOUR Wonderful World!
Merry Christmas to Y'all!