Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska with Blueberry-Ricotta ice-cream

Well, I never thought of putting ice-cream into a hot oven, but this month it was time to try something daring. Yup, it's Daring Bakers' time again. This month challenge was to make a Baked Alaska. A Baked Alaska is a dessert which contains of a cake base, in this case a totally yummy brown butter cake, this is topped with ice cream. Then the whole cake is spread with meringue, which serves as an insulator, when the cake is put in the oven.

For the ice-cream I made a Blueberry-Ricotta ice-cream. We were lucky the other day, when we took a hike to find a huge patch of wild blueberries. There were endless bushes of ripe and juicy berries, and in no time we had filled our basket. Those wild berries have a lot of flavor and made the ice-cream really stand out.

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

Blueberry-Ricotta Ice Cream

500 g fresh blueberries
150 g sugar (or more to taste)
250 g ricotta
150 g sour cream
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Wash and dry the blueberries, discard any stems or leaves. With a hand blender puree the berries together with the sugar. Add the ricotta and sour cream and blend together. Add the lemon juice and maybe some more sugar to taste. Put in the refrigerator to cool before you put it into an ice-cream machine.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

275 g unsalted butter
200 g sifted cake flour (or all purpose flour combined with 1 tbsp. corn starch per 100g)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
110 g packed light brown sugar
75 g cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

I used half of the cake recipe and baked them in 6 little tartlette rings.

4 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
110 g sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions - Baked Alaska

Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

Make the meringue (see above.)

Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Enjoy and Guten Appetit!
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