Lemony Baked Alaska with Strawberries

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 10 hr 40 min (includes freezing time)
  • Active: 55 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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Ingredients

Sorbet:

2 to 3 pints lemon sorbet

Cake:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

3/4 teaspoon baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon baking soda 

1 cup sour cream 

2/3 cup sugar 

1/2 cup milk 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg 

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 

Fruit:

1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered

1/4 cup sugar 

Meringue:

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 

1 cup sugar 

1/2 cup London dry gin (or 151-proof rum) 

Directions

Special equipment:
a disposable pastry bag fitted with the star tip; a large, round, ovenproof serving platter
  1. For the sorbet: Mash the sorbet in a 7- to 8-inch-diameter bowl, then form it into a dome inside the bowl. (You may use between 2 and 3 pints depending on the size of your bowl.) Smooth the top and cover with plastic. Freeze for 8 hours or up to overnight.
  2. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Use 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9-inch round cake pan.
  3. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a small pot over medium heat, then let cool. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Combine the sour cream, sugar, milk, vanilla and egg in another bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in small batches, whisking as you go to avoid the formation of lumps. Stir in the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and stir to blend. Transfer the batter to the greased baking pan, then gently tap the sides of the pan so it is evenly distributed. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then use a knife to scrape around the sides of the cake pan and invert the cake from the pan onto a cooling rack, to cool completely.
  4. For the fruit: Stir together the strawberries and sugar in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. For the meringue: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until they gain volume, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the cream of tartar and the sugar, then whip until stiff peaks form and the whites are firm and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the whites to a disposable pastry bag (or sealable plastic bag) fitted with a star tip.
  6. Assemble the dessert: When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  7. Transfer the cake layer to a large, round, ovenproof serving platter. (You are building a dessert on top of this cake, so the platter should be larger than the cake.)
  8. Remove the sorbet from the freezer and run a paring knife around the edges. Fill a large bowl with warm water and gently lower the sorbet bowl into the warm water to loosen the sorbet. (Be careful not to let any water get into the sorbet bowl.) Invert the sorbet bowl onto the cake so the flat part of the sorbet lays on the cake and creates a sorbet dome. Working quickly, squeeze out the meringue in little spurts to cover the whole surface of the sorbet and cake with little egg white spikes. Have fun with it.
  9. Bake until the meringue hardens and browns slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the fruit around the meringue, then pour the gin around the edges of the platter and carefully light the fruit liquid so it burns a ring around the dessert as you serve it. (Use extreme caution when igniting alcohol.)

Cook’s Note

You can easily buy a cake at the store and skip making it. When you whip the egg whites for the meringue, make sure the utensils and bowl are very clean. The egg whites will whip up faster and make for fluffier meringue. You can make this one giant dessert or make individual ones, counting a slice of cake, about 1 1/2 scoops sorbet and an eighth of the meringue per serving.