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Baked Alaska, Reinvented for a Modern Holiday

Created November 5, 2018
Even though it really is doable at home, Baked Alaska sounds like a dessert that only professionals should attempt: a brownie base and layers of ice cream, covered in meringue and torched to toasty perfection. The Betty Crocker Kitchens reinvented this classic dessert to cut the intimidation factor without reducing the retro appeal. Meet the new-school 13x9 dessert that will get wows with its appearance and its taste.

This version of baked Alaska is as magical as Christmas itself with a toasty marshmallowy top, a cold and creamy strawberry middle, and a rich brownie bottom—it’s the perfect finale for your holiday feast! While we love the heirloom recipe, we were looking for a streamlined version that would deliver on the flavor of the original recipe with a few convenient shortcuts along the way. And that’s exactly what you get with this recipe, which we’re about to walk you through—complete with tips from the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens.

Even better, you can pull off this dessert without spending a fortune on fancy ingredients. In addition to a couple of staples—like eggs, vanilla, oil and sugar—you really only need strawberry ice cream, a box of Betty Crocker Supreme original brownie mix and cream of tartar.

The equipment you’ll need is also pretty standard. You’ll want your prettiest 13x9 pan—so you can serve from it and still do the dessert justice—a whisk, mixing bowls (including a metal or glass one that can take the heat), a saucepan, a thermometer, electric mixer, a spatula and a spoon. If you have a double-boiler, it’s helpful here, but by no means required—we’ll explain how to hack your own below. An offset spatula is nice to have, if you want to get serious about your swirls—otherwise, a spoon will do just fine.

One more note before we dive into the details: We recommend starting this recipe the day before you plan to serve it, as layers will need 3 hours in the freezer to set but are perfectly left overnight.

Have you collected it all your ingredients and equipment? Great! Here’s how to pull together your Easy Baked Alaska.

Begin by baking your brownies according to the package instructions for cakey brownies.

Begin by baking your brownies according to the package instructions for cakey brownies. After brownies are done baking, allow an hour for them to cool completely.

soften six cups of strawberry ice cream, so you can spread it on top of the brownie base

With the baking out of the way, the next step is to soften six cups of strawberry ice cream, so you can spread it on top of the brownie base. To soften, put your ice cream in the refrigerator and check it after 20 to 30 minutes. Store your ice cream-covered brownies in the freezer while you make the meringue.

Use a spoon or offset spatula to create swirls in your meringue

If you’ve never made meringue, have no fear. The only trick is to pay attention, especially when separating your egg yolks and whites—see our tip below.

Before you get started, find a glass or metal mixing bowl that fits inside your saucepan without touching the pan’s bottom. If you have a double-boiler, this is the perfect time to use it.

Once you find a bowl and pan that fit together, put a couple of inches of water into your pan—again, you don’t want to bowl to touch the water. Then remove your bowl and turn on the heat, so your water can come up to a simmer.

When preparing your ingredients, it’s important to prevent egg yolks from mixing with whites, so crack eggs one at a time, placing each white into a small bowl to ensure it is free of yolk before transferring it to bowl. Whisk together your ingredients inside the bowl. Once everything is well combined, you can set the bowl atop the pan, over the simmering water.

If you have a thermometer that clips to the side of your bowl, it would be handy here. If you don’t, it’s no matter, any thermometer will do. Remember to stir occasionally—you’ll notice the sugar dissolving. After 16 to 20 minutes, the meringue mixture should reach a temperature of 160F. At this point, the eggs in your meringue will have cooked to a food-safe temperature, and you can remove the bowl from the stove—just remember to use a potholder, as it will be hot!

Next, you’ll want to transfer the meringue mixture to a fresh bowl. Then beat it with an electric mixer on high for 8 to 10 minutes, or until stiff, glossy peaks form. Finally, you can remove your pan of ice cream-topped brownies from the freezer and add the meringue as the final layer. Use a spoon or offset spatula to create swirls in your meringue—this will make for an extra pretty presentation as the peaks of the swirls will get more toasty than the valleys.

Return the pan to the freezer for three hours, or overnight, if you have started this dessert ahead of time.

meringue peaks begin turning golden brown

When it’s almost time to serve your dessert, crank up your oven to 500F. Once your oven is up to temp, put your baked Alaska in the oven and stay close by—you don’t want to burn your dessert after all the care you’ve put into it. It should take three to five minutes for the meringue peaks to begin turning golden brown.

Ready to give this recipe a whirl? The full recipe for Easy Baked Alaska awaits you! Don’t forget to leave us a comment; we don’t think you’ll be disappointed, but always love hearing your feedback, comments and questions!

What’s the Deal with Baked Alaska Anyway?

Like many famous recipes, Baked Alaska has more than one origin story. The most popular version is that this dessert was first served at a New Orleans restaurant called Antoine’s to celebrate the purchase of Alaska in 1867, with the cold ice cream alluding to the chilly climate of the new territory. However the dessert came to be, one thing is certain: the basic formula, which includes a layer of sponge cake or brownie covered thickly with ice cream and topped with meringue. A quick bake in a hot oven toasts the meringue, which protects the ice cream from melting. The end result is a spectacular dessert that’s toasty and fluffy on the outside, cold and creamy on the inside and built on a solid chocolate brownie foundation! Give it a try with Betty’s recipe for Holiday Baked Alaska.

Looking for more ways to update timeless Christmas traditions? Check out the rest of Betty’s best Christmas recipes.