I settled on individual Almond Mocha Fudge Baked Alaskas for my mom's birthday. I thought I was giving myself plenty of time, but on Friday morning, I realized that I had to get in gear if I wanted to get everything done. So while Cha was at school and Ro was napping, I quickly tackled the almond genoise that would become the base of my Baked Alaska after spending a whole 5 minutes searching through recipes. I went with an Epicurious recipe for Opera Cake (must try that soon too!). I only used the genoise recipe obviously, and decided that the ground almonds I had in the pantry would stand in for almond flour. Yeah. Right. Cake didn't rise, but that's all right. Tasted good. I used the bottoms of my mini cheesecake pan as guides to cut it into rounds with a paring knife, and placed a cake layer in each of the mini cheesecake pan mold.
I also had time to tackle the ice cream base. I used what I think might be a cheesecake ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz. I love the texture of it, and it's really simple to make. Plus, it's not too cheesecakey, so I didn't think it would clash with the rest of the flavors in the Baked Alaska. I did consult my MIL because I remember that when I first made it, it was too sweet, and we had decided to decrease the sugar. And then I forgot. So I made it according to the following recipe.
Cheesecake Ice Cream
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, mix until creamy and set aside.
Bring the milk to a boil over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and very slowly add it to the cream cheese mixture while mixer is running at medium low until combined and smooth. (If you add the hot milk to fast, your mixture will curdle.) Add the entire mixture back to the pan.
Stir over medium-low heat until thickened slightly (should take around 3 minutes). Remove from heat, strain mixture, and let cool 10 minutes.
Combine the heavy cream and cream cheese mixture together. Chill thoroughly. Pour into your ice cream machine and freeze according to manufactures instructions.
In the afternoon, I made the chocolate mocha fudge that would be swirled into the ice cream. I spent a bit more time looking at recipes for that. I didn't want the fudge to be incorporated in the ice cream but remain a clear ribbon, with the distinct fudge swirl mouth feel, and not chocolate syrup. I went with this recipe. I was worried throughout. I melted my butter and my chocolate. Seemed all right. Added a mixture of milk and cream because I didn't have half and half. Seemed weird. Added sugar. Mixture totally separated. Added more sugar. Mixture still oily and not right. Added more sugar - at this point, it was quite thick - still oily but better. I stirred it a lot! And I added maybe 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder. Then cooked it for 25 minutes. It came out all right. Very all right actually. It's not too sweet, tastes like chocolate with a kick of coffee. Very good.
barely adapted from RecipeGirl
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
instant espresso powder, to taste (optional)
1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together over simmering water. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in half & half. Add 1/2 cup sugar, whisking as you pour it in. Continue stirring until sugar has dissolved (and isn’t grainy)- about 30 seconds. Add another 1/2 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Then add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and stir again.
2. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce becomes glossy and thickens slightly, about 25 minutes.
3. Serve warm.
Yield: About 2 cups
When both my ice cream base and my hot fudge sauce were cool, I churned the ice cream and when it was soft serve consistency, I used a squeeze bottle to add ribbons of fudge in it. It totally jammed the machine, so I ended up just squeezing the fudge on the ice cream and folding it in by hand. It did a really good job. Must remember to use a squeeze bottle the next time I want swirls in ice cream.
I poured the freshly churned ice cream directly in my mini cheesecake molds, on top of the almond genoise, and put the whole thing in the freezer overnight. Next morning, I unmolded them, and put them back in the freezer while I made the meringue.
Meringue is just 4 egg whites and a cup of sugar, whisked in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a pan of simmering water until it hits 110 F and then whisked until cool, about 10 minutes. Plop the whole thing in a piping bag with whatever tip you want, and go nuts covering the whole cake and ice cream with the meringue. Sounds simple enough. NOT SO. I have to admit that my freezer is not in the best condition right now, so maybe my ice cream was not as frozen as it should have been. Maybe using homemade ice cream with such a creamy texture wasn't such a good idea. The meringue kept sliding off the ice cream. The ice cream kept getting mixed in with the meringue. Piping it was easier than trying to spread it, but my piping skills need refining. But in any case, I got them covered as best as I could.
After a very copious brunch, my brother and I had fun toasting them. Well I had fun, I'm sure he was mostly humoring me.
I was kinda surprised at how much I liked that dessert. I thought, oh whatever, tiny layer of cake, ice cream and meringue, how special could it be? But it was really good. The different textures were good. The ice cream was really, really good. The toastiness from the meringue brought in some dept. Overall, a dessert I would make again. I'm not sure about the individual portions, as the covering with meringue part was a bit tedious, and I got complaints that the serving size was too big, but I would definitely consider making a big Baked Alaska that we could slice up and serve.
Happy birthday Mom!