Looking for a dessert with that ‘wow’ factor? You can’t get much more jaw-dropping than the throwback classic: Baked Alaska. This old-school favorite combines all the best desserts — three layers of ice cream, cake and creamy, whipped meringue — into one, creating an unforgettable treat.
This iconic dessert first originated at Delmonico’s in New York City to commemorate the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. The restaurant created the layered ice cream and cake dish topped with toasted, swirling meringue as a homage to the new territory’s icy peaks — it’s been a hit ever since! While it does require a bit of time and planning, the show stopping result is truly worth it. For the best result possible, we’ve got a few tips: First, freeze the ice cream center for at least four hours before assembling to ensure no melting when you torch the meringue. Also, don’t skip on adding cream of tartar to the meringue! This little ingredient helps the meringue stay light, fluffy, and optimal for spreading over your delicious ice cream center.
Whether you’re looking for a perfect cake recipe for a throwback party, a spring dessert to celebrate the season or simply want to test out your baking skills, look no further than this stunning treat. Don’t forget to pair it with a classic cocktail for an old-fashioned night to remember!
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1 hr 35 mins
vanilla ice cream
strawberry ice cream
8-inch round cake (we used chocolate)
large egg whites
cream of tartar
Pinch of kosher salt
Step 1Line medium metal bowl (8- to 9-inch diameter at top) with plastic wrap, leaving 4-inch overhang all around. Layer ice creams and sorbet into bowl, starting with vanilla ice cream, then strawberry and finally sorbet, and smooth top. Cover with overhang and freeze at least 4 hours.
Step 2Meanwhile, prepare cake and let cool.
Step 3Unwrap bowl of ice cream and sorbet and place cooled cake on top. Freeze 10 minutes.
Step 4Invert entire bowl (cake, ice cream, and all) onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Remove bowl (but not plastic) and freeze 15 minutes.
Step 5In large metal or glass bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl over (but not in) saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and whites are very warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 6Remove bowl from heat and, using electric mixer, beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until soft, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes.
Step 7Remove plastic wrap from ice cream cake. Spoon meringue over it, swirling decoratively and making sure to cover entire surface.
Step 8Using kitchen torch, toast meringue until light golden brown. (Alternatively, heat oven to 475°F and bake until meringue just starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to serving platter and serve immediately or return to freezer for up to 4 hours; ice cream may melt using this method.)
Make them mini! Bake your favorite cake on a parchment-lined 17 1/2- by 12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet, then punch out smaller circles and use smaller bowls to mold the ice cream.
Kate Merker (she/her) is the Chief Food Director of the Hearst Lifestyle Group, overseeing the team that produces food content for several Hearst titles, including Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Prevention, Woman’s Day and Country Living. She has clocked nearly 20 years of experience in food media and before that, worked at some of New York City’s finest restaurants.
Taylor Worden is Delish's Assistant Digital Food Producer, where she creates recipe galleries, recipe updates and more. She was previously a freelance editor on the food team for Good Housekeeping, where she also contributed entertainment and culture pieces as a freelance writer. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism and a lifelong love of writing. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading, testing out a new pasta recipe, or rewatching one of her favorite shows.
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