I’ve been carrying around this little notebook for 5 1/2 years. In it, I write all the desserts I want to scale down for two. I’m always consulting the list and checking things off. It’s because of this little notebook that I’ve never experienced burn-out here in this space. There are always more sugary sweets out there to scale down to serve two. Life is pretty sweet, friends.
I reach for my trusty notebook when I eat at a restaurant with an inspiring dessert menu. I reach for it on Monday afternoons during the period of time I block off on my calendar for creative daydreaming. (Yes, I really do that. Try it!) Lately, I’ve been reaching for it often at the end of the day to scribble in my current cravings…which then become tomorrow’s reality. I’m taking full advantage of the extra calories breast feeding is burning, to put it nicely. I eat dessert daily. Sometimes twice.
I think Baked Alaska has been on the list for close to 5 years. I’m not sure what took me so long to make it. It’s a great little posh dessert–a slice of sponge cake covered with ice cream of your choice, all schmeared with meringue that gets toasted just before serving. It’s like cake meets ice cream with toasted marshmallow. In the words of Queen Ina, “how bad can that be?” Answer: not bad at all. Freaking fantastic, actually.
When I spotted this black cherry sorbet at a specialty shop, I knew it was time to make Baked Alaskas for two. You can use any flavor or sorbet that you think is fancy. Though I didn’t make the sorbet myself, I did stuff another one of those dang cherries that I just can’t get rid of in the center. (Like two cherries are really making a dent in the jar, though).
You can make this recipe serve way more than 2 by using the sponge cake recipe from my Shortcut Tres Leches Cakes. Or, you can half that recipe exactly and make it in a loaf pan. Just a note: half a tablespoon is 1.5 teaspoons. Be precise! In both cases, add a splash of almond extract. Frozen sponge cake leaves a lot to be desired in the flavor department, but extract saves the day. Vanilla would be fantastic, too. Or lemon. Anything, really.
Ok, so prep. Let’s chat. I made the sponge cake the day before. While it was cooling, I scooped perfect spheres of sorbet using an ice cream scoop. The trick to getting perfect orbs is leveling it off in the scoop. Just scrape it against the side of the pint. Then, use a wet thumb to make a hole to stuff the cherry inside. (That is officially the weirdest sentence I’ve ever typed on this blog. Oh wait. I talked all about puking on my boyfriend once). The stuffed cherry part is optional, yo. You can stack the sorbet scoop on top of the cake and freeze it overnight. Or, put the sorbet scoops on cupcake liners and freeze, like I did. The egg white part is the only thing that has to happen just before serving. So, when it’s go-time, whip the egg whites with sugar. You can use a piping bag or just schmear them on the sorbet-cake bombes with a spoon–imperfection is the goal so we get ridges for toasting. If you opt for a spoon, drag the edges of a fork to make even more ridges before brulee-ing. You can do it!
2 hrPrep Time
15 minCook Time
2 hr, 15 Total Time
- 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
- 1 pint black cherry sorbet
- 2 Morello cherries (optional)
- 3 egg whites
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- 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. (Or, whisk it very well).
- 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. The proper folding technique is: down the middle with the narrow part of the spatula and then sweep the sides of the bowl. Take your time and do this carefully until all of the flour mixture is incorporated, adding ? of the flour mixture at a time.
- Finally, stir in the hot milk and butter mixture all at once and fold in very 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. If the cake doesn't flop out, use a rubber spatula to help it. The cake is very forgiving and does not tear easily. The parchment paper will stick to the surface of the cake. Gently peel it 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.
- Next, 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. Then, dip your finger in warm water, and then push a hole for the cherry in the center of each scoop. This is optional.
- 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--no stiff peaks! (The large amount of sugar should prevent stiff peaks, but be careful, still!)
- When ready to serve, pipe the egg whites (or use a spoon) over the sorbet-cake bombes. Use a fork to make ridges in the egg whites.
- Using a culinary torch, brûlée the egg whites from a safe distance.
- Serve immediately.
*You could top the sorbet scoops on the cake and freeze overnight.