21 Feb Mini Lemon Baked Alaska’s
Sometimes you need a super-impressive dessert with minimal effort. In fact, I can’t think of any occasion where such a dessert would not be ideal! That’s where these utterly gorgeous Mini Lemon Baked Alaska’s work perfectly. Apart from the meringue, the remaining components can all be shop-bought, and the majority of the preparation is done in advance. If you do happen to have some home-made lemon curd, sponge cake or vanilla ice cream at home then all the better!
Baked Alaska’s have a reputation for being difficult to make. This is because essentially you are applying high heat to a frozen dessert and hoping it stays frozen! Believe it or not, this is actually possible, but a few little tricks will help you enormously. Firstly, having a blowtorch means you can apply that heat very locally to the meringue without actually heating up the whole dessert. Secondly, make sure your ice cream has had plenty of time to freeze solid beforehand, preferably overnight. And lastly, making a swiss meringue (where the egg white and sugar are heated together over a pan of hot water before whipping) makes a more stable meringue which seems to insulate the ice cream a little better.
1l of vanilla ice cream
100g lemon curd
1 sponge cake
3 large egg whites
150g castor sugar
5ml vanilla essence
- Place the vanilla ice cream in a large airtight container and allow to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Spoon over the lemon curd and swirl it through with a knife (do not mix it in as you want the swirls to be visible). Freeze for at least 3 hours.
- Use a round cookie cutter to cut the sponge cake into 6 rounds of about 7cm diameter, and 1cm thick. Place onto a baking tray. Use an ice cream scoop to form 6 scoops of the lemon curd ice cream and place each onto a round of cake. Freeze for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
- For best results, make your Swiss meringue as close to serving as possible*. Place the egg whites and castor sugar into a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until all the sugar has dissolved (test by rubbing between your fingers, there should be no granules).
- Remove the bowl from the heat and use an electric or stand mixer to whisk the mixture for 5-10 minutes, or until the bowl is cool to the touch and the meringue is thick, smooth and glossy. Add the vanilla essence and whisk well.
- Take your ice cream cakes out of the freezer and quickly spread or pipe the meringue over each one, covering completely with a fairly thick layer. Use a blowtorch** to toast the meringue and serve immediately!
* It is possible to make the meringue in advance, immediately spread over the ice cream and freeze the whole dessert. You can then just toast the meringue before serving. After some time in the freezer the meringue may separate though, so don’t freeze it for more than a few hours.
** If you don’t have a blowtorch, you can place the meringue-covered ice cream’s into a very hot oven (230°C) for a minute or two, watching closely!