Baked Alaska

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This old-fashioned dessert has become popular again, and why not?  An ice-cream cake covered with an igloo of meringue emerging from an oven is a real showstopper.

6  tablespoons sugar    
3  large egg yolks    
1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract    
3  ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled    
3  large egg whites, room temperature    
  Pinch of salt    
1 1/2  pints pistachio ice cream, slightly softened    
1 1/2  pints cherry ice cream or berry sorbet, slightly softened    
Swiss Meringue   
 Vegetable-oil cooking spray 

1.   Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and
spray with cooking spray. 

2.   Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and the egg yolks in bowl of an electric mixer fitted
with the whisk attachment; whisk, on medium speed, until pale yellow and thick, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla, and fold in melted chocolate just to combine.
3.   In a medium bowl, combine egg whites and pinch of salt in bowl of electric mixer;
whip, on medium speed, until frothy. Add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff. Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture. 

4.   Carefully pour batter out into prepared cake pan. Bake until cake is set and top is
dull, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack. 
5.   Spray a 5-cup-capacity metal bowl with cooking spray; line with plastic. Pack base
of bowl with pistachio ice cream; layer cherry ice cream over pistachio, then finish with another layer of pistachio ice cream (or layer ice creams and sorbets as you desire). Pack firmly, cover surface with plastic wrap, and place in freezer. Freeze until ice cream is very hard, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours in advance.
6.   Place cake on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Remove ice cream from the
freezer, and invert bowl over cake. Keep the ice cream covered with plastic wrap, and return ice-cream cake to the freezer.
7.   Preheat oven to 500F.  Fill a pastry bag, fitted with an Ateco #5 star tip, with
meringue; pipe onto ice cream in a decorative fashion, or spoon meringue over ice cream and swirl with a rubber spatula. If ice cream starts to soften, return cake to freezer for 15 minutes. 
 8.   Place in oven, and bake until meringue just starts to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from oven, and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Photo: Victoria Pearson

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