Neapolitan Baked Alaskas
Individual servings of baked Alaska start as gelato -- strawberry and vanilla -- and chocolate cake that are layered in teacups and frozen overnight. Just before serving, spread the meringue onto each mound, and then bake or torch until evenly toasted outside and wonderfully marshmallow-like and gooey inside.
- Vegetable oil, cooking spray
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 8 large egg yolks, 12 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), melted and warm
- Pinch of salt
- 2 pints strawberry gelato, slightly softened
- 2 pints vanilla gelato, slightly softened
- 2 batches Basic Italian Meringue
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, line with parchment, then coat parchment.
Beat 1/2 cup sugar and the yolks with a mixer on medium speed until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Beat in vanilla and warm chocolate. Transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk whites and salt with a mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until sugar dissolves. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Whisk a third of meringue into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining meringue in 2 additions.
Spread batter into prepared sheet. Bake until cake is set and top is dull, about 25 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack. Invert cake onto work surface. Using a 2 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Reserve scraps for another use.
Coat eight 1-cup teacups or ramekins with cooking spray, then line with plastic, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Pack 1/2 cup strawberry gelato into bottom of each cup. Top with 1/2 cup vanilla gelato, then 1 cake circle. Cover each with plastic, and freeze overnight.
Let cakes stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Using plastic overhang, unmold cakes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap with plastic, then freeze.
Working with 1 at a time, spoon 1/2 cup meringue on cake, spreading it over entire surface with an offset spatula. Hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of meringue. Move flame back and forth until meringue begins to brown. Alternatively, heat oven to 500 degrees. Bake cakes on top rack until meringue begins to brown, about 2 minutes. (If ice cream begins to soften, freeze for 15 minutes. Meringue can be applied to cakes, then frozen, uncovered, for up to 1 day ahead.) Serve immediately.