Cooking with Joy

No need to head North for Baked Alaska on Christmas Eve

December 18, 2013 

Baked Alaska is an oxymoron.

The very name is a contradiction. It’s one of those mysteries in life that delight us, however. We don’t care that it doesn’t make sense. All we care about is that it works and we love the results.

The first time I had ever seen this flamboyant dessert was on Christmas Eve when I was a kid. I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Our house was beautifully decorated. The Christmas tree was covered with colored lights and hung with our favorite ornaments. Neatly wrapped gifts were piled under it. There were candles in the windows and fresh mistletoe was hung over the front door.

The table was set with the good china, crystal and silver, and decorated with fresh greenery and candles. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner together around that table.

When we were finished and the dishes were cleared, Mother disappeared into the kitchen. We didn’t know what dessert was going to be, but we patiently waited, suspecting something special was coming. We were right.

Mother came into the dining room with a Baked Alaska on a silver tray. We had no idea what it was until she cut into it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The fact that ice cream was baked into a meringue shell seemed impossible, yet there it was.

It was magic – and definitely one of my mother’s finest hours.

Ever since that night, Baked Alaska has had a special place in my heart. Because it’s not one of those mainstream desserts that you see on a menu, I haven’t eaten it in a very long time. I never made one because I thought it would be too complicated.

You can imagine my excitement when I saw an easy recipe for individual Baked Alaska. It never occurred to me that you could make several little ones instead of one big one. I immediately tried it and it worked. A new dessert was born in our house.

My mother’s magnificent Baked Alaska has evolved into a dessert that I can actually make. You can, too. How it works remains a mystery but nobody cares. All we care about is that it works and we love the results.

Some things never change.

Joy Smith is a resident of Fort Mill. Email her at ohjoy@comporium.net.

Individual Baked Alaska

4 large sugar cookies

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

Place cookies on baking sheet. Put a scoop of ice cream in the middle of each cookie. Freeze. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Beat egg whites and cream of tarter until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually beat in sugar mixture until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Spread over frozen ice cream and cookies, covering well. Put in freezer on baking sheet until ready to cook. Freeze up to 6 hours. Bake in a 500 degree oven for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

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