Baked Alaska is an old-school fancy dessert. Frozen on the inside, then covered in a layer of meringue, it’s sort of a culinary miracle — and it used to be made in the oven! In this egg-free version, a torch is used to brown the meringue, but the final effect is still pretty spectacular. Serve this at your next big family get-together or for a special occasion, like a birthday.
BAKED ALASKA [VEGAN]
FOR THE CAKE:
1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe vanilla ice cream (see recipe below)
1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam
FOR THE MERINGUE:
1/4 cup aquafaba
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
FOR THE VANILLA ICE CREAM:
3 tablespoons aquafaba
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean seeds (see notes)
TO MAKE THE ICE CREAM:
In mixer bowl, combine aquafaba and 2 tablespoons sugar; sprinkle in xanthan gum. Set mixer speed to low and beat for 2 minutes. Turn up speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Set to highest speed and beat mixture until thick peaks form, about 4-6 minutes.
Remove bowl from mixer and add coconut milk, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Carefully whisk by hand until aquafaba mixture is mostly incorporated into ice cream.
Scoop mixture into ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to a covered container and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours to set.
TO MAKE THE CAKE:
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine non-dairy milk and lemon juice. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
In mixer bowl, combine 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, sugar, and aquafaba. Attach flat beater to mixer. Set mixer speed to medium and beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add milk mixture. Set speed to low and beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.
With the mixer running on its slowest speed, gradually add flour mixture a little at a time. Beat until combined, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula, if needed.
Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Clean and dry springform pan. Line with two sheets of plastic wrap, overlapping in a crisscross pattern and with ends extending over edges of pan by about 4 inches.
Spoon freshly made ice cream into bottom of lined pan. Pack down well. Loosely cover with ends of plastic wrap. Transfer to freezer and freeze until firm, about 2-4 hours.
Remove ice cream from freezer and, working quickly, peel back plastic wrap. Spread top of ice cream with jam. Carefully invert cake on top, with smooth side up, and press down gently. Pull layers of plastic wrap over cake so that the whole thing is tightly wrapped. Transfer to freezer overnight.
TO MAKE THE MERINGUE:
In clean mixer bowl, combine aquafaba, sugar, and cream of tartar. Attach the wire whisk to mixer. Set mixer speed to low and beat for 2 minutes. Turn up speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Turn up speed as high as it will go and beat until fluffy and peaks form, about 4-6 minutes. It will have a similar texture to marshmallow fluff.
Remove sides and bottom of pan. Remove plastic wrap and place baked Alaska, cake side down, on a plate.
Spread a thick layer of aquafaba meringue over top and sides of cake. Return to freezer for 2 hours to set.
Before serving, brown meringue. With torch at full blast 2 to 3 inches from surface, wave it over top and sides of cake until meringue is evenly toasted and golden brown. Serve (see notes).
Store leftover ice cream in the freezer for up to 1 month.
There are a few different ways to get vanilla seeds. First off, you can buy whole vanilla beans at gourmet food stores. Carefully slice the vanilla bean open with the tip of a sharp paring knife, then scrape out the small seeds from the inside. You can also buy vanilla bean paste. This is vanilla seeds that have been preserved, usually in bourbon, and it has a gooey, paste-like texture. You can also buy dry vanilla seeds in a small jar — they aren’t cheap, but a little goes a long way.
The assembly of the baked Alaska works best if you pour the ice cream mixture straight into the springform pan rather than freezing it in an ice cream maker. You can prepare it, pour it into the pan and freeze it for up to 1 week before assembling the dessert. If you need to use the pan to bake the cake, simply unmold the ice cream, wrap it well with plastic and freeze it in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it. Then put it back in the pan when it’s time to layer on the jam and cake.
To cut: Fill a deep container with hot water. Dip the blade of your knife in the hot water, then wipe it dry before each slice.
You can make this ahead. Complete Step 8. Wrap tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer and transfer to the fridge about 1 hour before serving. Proceed with making the meringue.