Make layer cake according to recipe in two 9" cake pans. (My favorite chocolate cake recipe is from Add a Pinch) Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire rack. Wrap layers with plastic wrap and either freeze or set aside until ready to assemble cake.
In one 9" cake pan, place 2 long sheets of foil, criss-crossed and pressed solidly against bottom and sides. Evenly spread the softened ice cream in the foil-lined cake pan. Press top of ice cream with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
To assemble cake, place 2 long sheets of plastic wrap criss-crossed and pressed solidly against bottom and sides of the other cake pan. Remove cake layers and ice cream layer from freezer. Unwrap the first cake layer and place in the plastic-lined cake pan right side up.
Remove plastic wrap from top of ice cream. Lift the ice cream layer out of the pan and invert on top of first cake layer, gently peeling away foil. Unwrap second cake layer and place on top of ice cream layer, right side up. Lift up the excess hanging plastic wrap to cover the cake. Place the assembled cake back in the freezer until ready for the meringue.
If you plan on finishing making the cake that day, separate eggs and set out whites to come to room temperature.
Combine water with cornstarch in a small heatproof bowl. Microwave for 45-60 seconds, stirring once, until thickened. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and beat until peaks are stiff and glossy.
Lift frozen cake / ice cream structure from cake pan and transport to a pie dish, removing plastic. Spoon meringue on top of cake and spread down the sides, sealing down to the pie dish so there are no gaps. Use the back of a spoon to make weeping peaks. Return cake to the freezer until ready to serve.
When ready to serve preheat oven to 500ºF. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until meringue has golden peaks all over. Alternatively flambé according to directions in recipe notes.
Serve immediately or place back in freezer uncovered until ready to serve. Let sit out for 30 minutes before serving or in the refrigerator for an hour.
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COOKS TIPS FOR MAKING BAKED ALASKA RECIPE
Baked Alaska is the perfect make-ahead dessert. Don’t plan on making this the day you are serving because it needs plenty of time to freeze and harden.
Make sure ice cream center is very solid before layering with cake. It will save you from a runny mess later on (been there 😩)
Successful meringue requires three things – yolk free egg whites, room temperature whites, and gradually adding sugar.
Eggs separate easily when cold, but then place whites covered on counter to bring to room temp.
Use any combination of ice cream and cake flavors – banana cake with toffee ice cream, chocolate cake with oreo ice cream, or white cake with strawberry. The possibilities are endless!
BAKED ALASKA FLAMBÉ OR FLAMING BAKED ALASKA
While spreading on meringue nestle half of an empty egg shell on top and place cake in freezer.
When ready to serve warm 1/3 cup of dark rum on the stove, but do not boil. Place cake onto a heat proof surface, such as a baking sheet.