August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Baked Alaska with Browned Butter Pound Cake


There are no words.

I refuse to speak of that monstrosity—that thing that took up hours and hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

Nope, not talking.

Fiiine, if you insist I will tell you that the August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.



Okay, I’ll tell my tale, but it shan’t be brief.

Upon learning about this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge, I immediately decided to make the Ice Cream Petit Fours, seeing as I don’t have a kitchen torch and didn’t fancy the idea of trying to brown the meringue under the broiler. From there, I chose a truly excellent flavor of ice cream for the filling—cinnamon. Even though the rest of this project was beyond shambolic, that cinnamon ice cream was divine—probably one of the best ice creams I've ever tasted.

After selecting a mouthwatering ice cream flavor, I decided to go along with the spicy cinnamon theme and make the petit fours’ chocolate glaze out of Mexican chocolate. Combined with the nutty, rich, browned butter pound cake, I knew this recipe would be a hit.

To start, I make the brown butter pound cake. Please enjoy the following visual representation of my journey. You, like me, can sit and marvel, wondering where it all went wrong.

whole butter

melted butter

browned butter

brown butter final

creamed butter and sugar

I hate to interrupt the sugar-filled reverie that you’ve undoubtedly slipped into, but my inner nerd forces me to inform you that the above photo is of the chilled browned butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.

There, inner nerd appeased. Moving on.

egg add

vanilla add

flour sift

flour add

final dough

dough in pan

finished pound cake

Making that pound cake looks so much easier now. During the course of working on this challenge, I made that pound cake three times, once to simply see how it tasted so I could figure out if the cinnamon ice cream would work, then to make the petit fours, and when those failed, then to make the Baked Alaska. Suffice it to say, if I ever see one of these pound cakes again, it will be too soon.

After making the pound cake, I proceeded to make the cinnamon ice cream, using the fabbity fab cinnamon that I got on my Rani’s run.

ground cinnamon

I’m considering becoming a hand model. Thoughts?


cinnamon and milk

beaten eggs

egg and cinnamon mix

heated ice cream

ice bath setup


strained cream

Once I had made the ice cream base, I popped it in my handy-dandy ice cream maker—which happens to be the coolest thing ever—and got it all chilled, then placed it in the freezer overnight. Then I was ready to assemble the petit fours.

levelled cake

halved cake

flat ice cream

layered cake

stacked petit fours

Once those little beauties—so full of promise—were formed, I set about making the chocolate glaze.


chocolate melt

I added in a bit of milk chocolate chips along with the Abuelita chocolate.


While the glaze cooled, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to make some icing that I could use to decorate the tops of the petit fours. What I didn’t take into account was how the green food coloring would stain my fingers.

I should’ve seen this as a sign of future disasters.


To make a long, depressing story short, my petit fours were a catastrophe. The cake and ice cream fell apart when I tried to dip them in the glaze, which was ridiculously thin. After a few failed attempts with the glaze, I tossed the rest of the unglazed petit fours back into the freezer and melted some chocolate, having decided to simply coat them in chocolate and call it a day. Unfortunately, after dipping them in chocolate, they were impossible to bite into without cracking a tooth. So, in the end, I decided to just try out a Baked Alaska instead, since there was still a little bit of time before this post was due and I had a leftover container of my cinnamon ice cream.

Here’s a photo of my ill-fated assembly.


Despite having a terrible time with the meringue coating, I was determined to press on and finish this. Even though half of my design was smudged in transit to the baking tray, I had moderately high hopes.

pre disaster

Until I bumped the tray, causing it to flip off the counter and plop my unbaked Baked Alaska onto the floor.

By then, it was all I could to just clean up the floor and repeat to myself, “I will not cry over meringue. I will not cry over meringue.” Unfortunately, this mantra proved ineffective once I realized that my Daring Bakers post was due in less than a day.


At this point, I was faced with a decision—dive into a marathon baking frenzy for the rest of the afternoon, desperately trying to recreate three days of work in a matter of a few hours, or simply submit the marred, gnarly, hot mess that my Baked Alaska turned out to be.

For the sake of my messy kitchen and my sanity, I chose the latter.



  1. Oh no! You were doing so well... your unbaked Baked Alaska was looking so pretty (hurrah for meringue!)... I would have cried! Cinnamon ice-cream does sound delicious and would have been amazing with the chili chocolate. Better luck next time! :-)

  2. You are quite the story teller! I am so sorry that your Petit Fours and Baked Alaska didn't make it through to the final stages. I kind of wondered in looking at the first picture how the Baked Alaska could end up with no meringue on top, but you definitely answered that. I have no idea what would have caused the Petit Fours to be so hard. Mine were in the freezer for days and I had no trouble biting into them. Better luck next time and way to persevere through the challenge!

  3. Heartbreaking! Poor thing, all that hard work, and the baked alaska looked lovely. Your tale reflects the reality of life for many of us in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing failures because then we can rejoice with you over your successes. Remember the cornbread waffles? They were delicious. Your chocolate torte was scrumptious.

  4. I did enjoy the visual representation of your journey! Very much. I'm sorry about your bad luck, especially when everything was looking so perfect. Mmm, cinnamon ice cream. *drool* I don't like to think how I would have reacted to dropping the meringue on the floor. I got ragey enough just trying to pipe the stuff. It sounds like you had fun writing the post though? I always enjoy blogging about the arse ups, which is just as well really...

  5. Maya@Foodiva's KitchenAugust 27, 2010

    You know, despite the end result, I loved everything that you did throughout this whole process! I really feel your efforts and pain because I've also been through it all at some point in my baking life - right down to the 'cake plop'... LOL. But oh, when things go well and you end up with stunning dishes, such is the joy! You remember how that feels, don't you?

  6. If you remember my marble cake story? Oh how I can relate. Pure frustration - but us persistant types alway trudge on - don't we. You get an A+ for effort and determination!

  7. Man, I say you deserve bonus points for this challenge - you went all out and made all of the elements (multiple times, for some!) for BOTH challenge recipes, and they probably all tasted amazing on their own. I am so sorry that the kitchen gods seemed to have it in for you as far as the completion of the final desserts on this one. I can only imagine how delicious that cinnamon ice cream was, especially with the (eek!) brown butter pound cake. I am sending happy vibes for much better dessert mojo for the next challenge right your way! :)

  8. Oh nooooo! Well at least you can say that it was great up until that point. I made petit fours and my glaze melted!

  9. I seriously would have sat on the floor and cried! But, I have to say I'm totally impressed that you kept pressing on! I think your baked Alaska would have been amazing! Thanks for sharing this :o)

  10. OH NO!!!! so sorry - I can still envision it's greatness

  11. Omg such a horror story, I feel for you! However, I do admire your temperament because if that was me, I would've threw everything out of the window, instead of having the steely patience to take a photo of it.

    But at least you got an engaging and hilarious post out of it and before disaster struck, your Alaska looked awesome.

  12. Aww we all have our cooking mishaps... at least you have a sense of humor about it!

  13. so much work....I am so sorry.....but you did entertain us with your story and your pictures were very good step by step instructions.....hope you have a better weekend!

  14. Oh no, Koci! I'm so sorry that you had a day full of mishaps in the kitchen. It happens to the best of us from time to time. You worked so hard! I have to give you credit for taking photos of every single step. Having to stop after each step to take a picture usually throws me off. I know your next recipe is going to turn out awesome. And I think you'd be a great hand model! haha

  15. Oh, no!! I really am ashamed to report that I did lol as soon as the first picture loaded on my computer. But your recipe looked beautiful, and your cinnamon theme sounded beyond fantabulous. We all have our share of kitchen mishaps, so don't fret! Can't wait to see a delicious do-over entry :).

  16. Thanks for all your great comments everyone! I really appreciate it. My poor, deflated baker's ego is once again happy-go-lucky and demanding that I make her some cookies. I've dusted myself off, mopped my floor, and am ready for next month's challenge, whatever it may be. You're the best!

  17. ... but I bet it was pretty tasty. Who need to "finish" petit fours anyway? Start a new trend. And post the ice cream recipe... mmmm that sounds good.

  18. You made me smile (if I say I laughed, will you be offended?) reading your story! But I didn't laugh at your tragedy, I laughed because it was written and photographed in such a humorous way! Despite the disaster, I'm sure it tasted great and I love your cinnamon ice cream idea! See you in September!

  19. I hate when something with so much promise just doesn't work out. You definitely put tons of work into this! Your story telling is great and I love the pictures! Thanks for sharing your whole adventure.

  20. oh honey! the saying is don't cry over spilt milk! you can cry over spilt meringue! and if your don't cry, at least curse!!!! :) the flavors sounded lovely either way.

  21. Koci! Your ice cream was lovely and custardy. Your pound cake was so good it is probably banned in certain states.

  22. ..what a lot of hard work! You were right to publish it though. It all showed so much promise that although you have shelved it for now I think it would be worth revisiting someday.

  23. Ha! Points for perseverance. Definitely feel you on the not ever wanting to see a pound cake again though..

  24. Time for a second batch of thank yous! All of your comments have put a smile on my face and have been so encouraging. I will have you know that I'm in the process of doing my own little, less-stressful do-over of this Baked Alaska, so we'll see if things turn out better!


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