Recipe Idea: Griddle Baked Alaska

The scene: it's a beautiful summer weekend. The sun is out, the lawn looks good, and your friends and family are over for a barbecue. Everyone's having a wonderful time, the steaks turned out great and now your guests are ready for a cup of iced griddle coffee and some dessert. That grill's still hot - could you make dessert on that? You bet you can - IF you are ready to completely dazzle your party guests. What follows below is one of the most sensational dessert recipes that you can make on a griddle, or anywhere: Baked Alaska.

A delicious combination of cold ice cream, warm sponge cake and sweet, crispy meringue, Baked Alaska is a dessert with a reputation and an appearance that suggests it is harder to make than it is. In reality, Baked Alaska involves easy technique, very few ingredients, a brief cooking time, and simple cleanup. Because it LOOKS AMAZING and TASTES AMAZING, people think that you've spent all day making it. With a Little Griddle you can make Baked Alaska right outside, so you can see your guests' expression when you pull the finished product out of a broiling-hot grill. Check out the video, and then let's put it together:

To make Baked Alaska, you will need:

- Sponge Cake - use your favorite recipe, or purchase one at the grocery store

- Two pints of ice cream (your favorite flavors), softened for 5 minutes

- 3 egg whites, at room temperature

- 3/4 Cup Sugar

- 1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

- 1/16 Teaspoon salt (a pinch)

At least two hours before you want to cook the Baked Alaska, line a medium (8-10 cup) glass storage bowl with plastic wrap. The shape of the bowl will influence the shape of the dessert, so keep your desired shape in mind when selecting a container (tip: Rounded dish bottoms are easier to unmold).

Fill the dish with the softened ice cream. If using two flavors, spread one full pint in the dish, and then spread the second pint on top of the first. Place the dish in the freezer to firm completely (this step may be done a day or more ahead of time). When ready to bake the dessert, remove the bowl from the freezer, and line the top of the dish with a 1/2" to 3/4" layer of sponge cake slices. This will form the bottom of your dessert when inverted. Return the dish to the freezer.

To finish the dish: Pre-heat your grill to medium-high (450 degrees fahrenheit), and line your griddle with aluminum foil. Make the meringue: Place your egg whites and salt in a clean stainless steel or glass bowl, and begin to beat slowly with a handheld or stand mixer until the eggs begin to froth. Increase your speed to medium and add the cream of tartar. After soft peaks have formed, increase speed to high and very slowly stream in your sugar. Beat until the meringue forms stiff, glossy peaks (see 1:10 in our video).

Remove the bowl from the freezer, and invert it onto the foil-covered griddle. You may have to run warm water on the outside of the bowl for a moment to loosen the contents. Remove the plastic wrap, and cover the ice cream and sponge cake with meringue until it forms your desired shape. IMPORTANT: make sure to cover the cake and ice cream all the way to the foil, because the meringue will not properly insulate the ice cream otherwise. Your meringue layer should be at least 1/2" think.

Now it's time to work quickly - immediately place the assembled dessert on the pre-heated grill and bake, lid closed, for approximately six to seven minutes. You need to peek under the hood periodically to make sure that the meringue is not melting or burning - in general, higher heat for less time is preferable to lower heat for more time.

When finished, the Baked Alaska should have a slightly crisp outer surface that is pleasantly browned on the peaks of the meringues. Carefully use the foil to pull the Baked Alaska directly on to a serving platter, leaving the griddle on the grill to cool. Slice, plate, and serve immediately.

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