September 12, 2010

Baked Alaska: A Disaster Revisited

Sometimes my level of obsessive, stubborn persistence truly astonishes me. Less than a day after posting my horrendous rendition of the August Daring Bakers’ challenge Baked Alaska, I had decided to give it one more try, insisting that I had to get it right at least once. Beyond my own determination, I had also actually won a kitchen torch the day after that tragic post.

Now that, my friends, is what I call irony.

So, with a brand new kitchen appliance on the way and a renewed sense of moderately-delusional baking optimism, I set about my final attempt at this challenge.

What ensued was a much more leisurely baking schedule that took place over the course of almost two weeks with a fair amount of innovation and improvement upon the elements and ingredients I had originally started with. For instance, I ended up using a different pound cake recipe, since the first one always ended up slightly raw in the center, as well as getting an even better result with my cinnamon ice cream (recipe will definitely be posted!). Add to this some slightly-less-frantic meringue piping skills and no projectile ingredients and you’ve got a recipe for success!

Before we start, allow me to freshen your memory of what my previous attempt at this challenge looked like…

shield your eyes!!!!

At least that’s what it looks like in my mind’s eye.

After whipping up another batch of cinnamon ice cream (and sampling quite a bit), I set about making my new and improved, non-goopey pound cake. Basically, all I did was take my mom’s dependable recipe from her “Cane River Cuisine” cookbook that she’s been using for years and substituted the regular butter with browned butter, as well as replacing one cup of granulated sugar with a cup of brown sugar. Here’s a quick play-by-play…

Note: This recipe called for 12 eggs, that’s why there’s so much liquid.

After that was all done, I popped it in the freezer until I was ready to assemble my Baked Alaska. The only thing that was stopping me was waiting for my kitchen torch to arrive, which it soon did a few days later.

*cue angelic chorus* Ahhhhhhhh

Seriously, the power in this little torch is mind-boggling. I barely had to waft it over the meringue before it was browned and crisp beyond belief. Besides culinary pursuits, I’m totally planning to use this to light birthday candles in the future.

Along with my beautiful new appliance came four cute little ramekins for my future creme brulee-ing delight.

With all my tools in place, I whipped up my meringue…

…and assembled my Baked Alaska.

The first step was to place my container of ice cream over the pound cake and roughly carve out the base’s shape…

…which left me with tons of extra pound cake pieces to munch on in the coming days.

After a basic layer of meringue to make sure the ice cream was covered…

…I then piped some lovely little swirlies over my Baked Alaska.

Those swirls have covered so many of my school notebooks, except much neater and obviously not with meringue.

The time had come to break out my brand new kitchen torch and unleash my inner pyromaniac. To say that I was looking forward to it would be an understatement. This Baked Alaska had been the bane of my existence for the better part of a month and it was time to show it who’s boss.

Just as many other Daring Bakers had said, the ice cream in the middle remained perfectly intact, making for a pretty cool effect.

However, despite the fact that it looked oh-so-pretty and delicate, this Baked Alaska had put me through the ringer. Therefore, I can’t be held responsible for not lovingly arranging it on a plate and sharing it with my family. After cutting out that slice, I simply grabbed a fork and dug in, using my kitchen torch to flame each individual bite to even greater crispy goodness.

The outer, burnt meringue tasted almost exactly like roasted marshmallows, except a little bit better. The ice cream was cinnamony, warm, and cold. The pound cake was dense and soaked up some of the ice cream as well. All in all, it was quite a yummy dessert and I can see why someone would want to make it.

That being said, now that I have successfully accomplished making a Baked Alaska, I never want to see one again. I think that’s a perfectly fair deal.

As promised, here’s the recipes for the pound cake and cinnamon ice cream.

To end this post on a high note, I simply must mention how much I appreciated all of your sweet, encouraging comments on the original Baked Alaska post. You helped me to see the silver lining and not take myself too seriously, to brush myself off and try again. For that, I want to say a big “Thank You.”

I luffles you all. :)

9 comments:

  1. YUMMY! Ok, I'm pretty sure I'm should hire you to make my birthday cake!!!! hahahaha!!!!!

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  2. You have got to be so incredibly proud of going back and mastering a quite challenging dessert! It looks beautiful and I would have so loved to try a piece. I'm bookmarking the cinnamon ice cream, it sounds incredible! Awesome post :o)

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  3. Now that's determination! The irony of winning the torch after your first Baked Alaska experience will be one of those things you can laugh about for years to come (and remember whenever you use the torch).
    Congratulations on conquering that mountain of a dessert!

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  4. what a remarkable masterpiece! kudos to you for continuing to persevere - i will definitely add this to my list of baking adventures that I must try - thank you for sharing, simply beautiful!

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  5. @Megs: Definitely! lol

    @Susi: I highly recommend that recipe. Cinnamon ice cream is beyond incredible!

    @Rachel: Ohhh yes, I shall never forget that torch! Thanks!

    @mangiabella: Thank you very, very much! :)

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  6. Great Job Koci! I'm so proud of your determination and hard work. I don't know that I would have ever gone back to the attempt. Your ice cream recipe was delicious and I will add it to my favorites, especially during the coming Thanksgiving and Christmas menus.

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  7. Yep...cinnamon ice cream/gelato is FAB! That looks lovely...if I'd known you were baking a cake, I'd have come over...I was in the Houston area (Alvin and Clear Lake) visting family this weekend! Maybe next time...what university do you go to, Koci?

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  8. Your Baked Alaska is a thing of beauty! I love how perfectly round it is. Bravo for going back and facing your meringue-y demons. I loved your description of how you ate it. :D

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  9. @Lady Cooks the Blues: Thank you! That ice cream would be great with all those wintery desserts!

    @wendy: hahaha We could've had a Baked Alaska party...although I was looking pretty scary. Right now, I go to a community college, with plans to transfer to a university soon. It's such a great way to get those early classes out of the way while still saving some money!

    @Suzler: Thanks! I think those meringue-y demons know not to stop by my house again. And yes, that kitchen torch has officially pushed me over the edge into complete pyromania. :D

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