Baked Alaska Pie from Jeni Britton Bauer


[Photograph: Stacy Newgent]

In the fall, we fire up the blow torches in our kitchen to "torch" handmade marshmallows which we blend into sweet potato ice cream. All year, though, the blow torches also get put to use on special occasions to make Baked Alaska Pies—delicious little dishes of layered pie crust, ice cream, and "torched" meringue.

This dessert is versatile. With sweet potato ice cream, it takes on a Thanksgiving personality. With dark chocolate, coconut, banana, or lemon ice cream, it feels like dessert à la Route 66: chocolate silk, coconut cream, banana cream, or lemon meringue pies. With Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream, made with the addition of a teaspoon of rose water or a drop of essential oil, if you like, it becomes an elegant spring offering.

And if the pie is impressive with one flavor, it is mind-blowingly gorgeous and yummy when made with half ice cream and half sorbet layered together. You could even add a thin layer of hot fudge sauce (or any other sauce in my book) atop the ice cream before topping it with the meringue.

It's yours to create—and when you put on the finishing touches with a blow torch in front of friends, it's party-time performance art.

At Jeni's, each pie serves 2 people, but I'm including the ultimate party recipe for one large pie that serves 8. I want one of these right now. The Italian meringue is voluptuous and velvety in your mouth—like the inside of a campfire marshmallow. Though Italian meringue is slightly more work than the simpler French meringue, the result is silky and billowy and worth the extra bit of effort.

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