Chocolate Raspberry Baked Alaska
Planning to entertain some friends from school, Laura and I wanted to make a dessert that could be prepared ahead of time and yet packed punch. Our choice: Baked Alaska, so called because the ice cream dessert, insulated by great wisps of meringue, is baked in the oven. We adapted a recipe from epicurious.com that uses a flourless chocolate cake as its base and raspberry ice cream. Since we couldn’t find a raspberry ice cream we were happy with, we improvised, mixing frozen raspberries into vanilla ice cream. We prepared the cake and ice cream ahead of time, whipping the meringue just before we were ready to bake it. The verdict: so delicious you won’t want to share it but so rich you just might have to.
4 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 whole large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Raspberry ice cream, slightly softened
8 large egg whites
Special equipment: 6 (8-oz) shallow ceramic or glass gratin dishes
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Melt chocolate and butter in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring, until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and whisk 3/4 cup sugar into chocolate mixture. Whisk in whole eggs and salt, then sift cocoa over and whisk until just combined.
Pour batter into ramekins, spreading evenly, and bake until a tester comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool ramekins, set aside.
Top each ramekin with a large scoop of ice cream (about 1/2 cup), then freeze, covered, just until ice cream is hard, about 25 minutes (do not let ice cream become rock hard unless making ahead – see cook’s note, below).
Make meringue just before serving:
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed, and continue beating until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 5 minutes in a standing mixer or about 12 minutes with a handheld.
Remove gratin dishes from freezer and mound meringue over ice cream and cake in ramekins, spreading to edge of each dish. Bake on a baking sheet in middle of oven until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Serve immediately.
• Ice cream and cake can be frozen in gratin dishes, covered, up to 1 day. Let soften at room temperature 15 minutes before covering with meringue.