I don’t usually trot out a big plate of brownies for dessert on a special occasion (although occasionally one will slip in there!), but brownies can be the basis for a fabulous and elegant dessert: Baked Alaska. Baked Alaska is a dessert that consists of a brownie base topped with ice cream, then covered in meringue and baked until browned. The “alaska” part of the dish is the ice cream, while the “baked” is, obviously, the fact that you brown the whole thing in the oven. The meringue browns very quickly in the oven, so there isn’t enough time for the ice cream to melt, so the dessert stays beautifully intact and has a nice hot-cold aspect to it when you serve it.
You need some baked, cooled brownies to start with. I use homemade brownies, though storebought and box mix brownies will work just fine in a pinch. Vanilla ice cream is traditional for this recipe, but you can really use any flavor you like. Because you don’t bake the meringue for very long, I cook the meringue in advance by beating a hot sugar syrup into beaten egg whites. The meringue is soft and marshmallowy, and takes on a great toasted-marshmallow flavor when it comes out of the oven. You could use an uncooked meringue, but the dessert doesn’t really spend enough time in the oven to cook all the way through in just a few minutes, so you might want to consider pasteurized eggs if you prefer to go this route.
You can make Baked Alaska with one brownie if you’re going to make a single serving or a dozen brownies if you want to feed a crowd. I’m going scale this to make 4 single-serving Baked Alaskas, but change the quantities to suit your needs when you’re trying it yourself!
4 2×2-inch brownies
4 small scoops vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat broiler (convection works well, too) to high.
Place brownies on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. Beat egg whites with a mixer until foamy, then, with the mixer on high speed, slowly drizzle in the hot sugar syrup and beat until egg whites reach soft peaks. Beat in vanilla extract.
Top each brownie with a small scoop of very cold ice cream and spread a layer of the meringue over the ice cream + brownie combination.
Place pan under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until meringue is just browned.