Flaming Igloos, the recipe

Flaming Igloo, er, not flaming.Well, enough people have asked after this recipe, that it merits a pub. I made these Baked Alaska bites for a finger-food party. I’m glad I took pictures. For a good turn out, give yourself enough time (at least four days in my case) and a spacious, cold freezer. A cool room to work in would be bonus.

Day One – The Base for these is a dark fudge brownie recipe. Cake seemed too delicate and cookie too hard. If you use a mix with chocolate chunks, sift them out. I think they’d retain heat and the base should be an even-tempered insulator for the ice cream.

Cutting brownie bases.Bake in a buttered, mini-cupcake pan (no paper) using no more than a half inch of batter in the bottom of the cups. Follow the baking directions for your mix/recipe in regards to temperature but time it sooner due to reduced volume. Cool the cake divots, then cut the top off to leave a base between 1/4 to 3/8s inch. The tops aren’t used in this recipe so they’re up for nibbling or whatever you’d like to do with them. Let the brownie bases hang out on the counter for a bit to dry out. Freeze ’em, spread out on parchment sheets, for about an hour then you can toss them into an airtight container to store for at least eight hours.

Day Two – The Ice Cream center is made in 1/2 inch, or smaller, cubes. Use as pure an ice cream as possible to avoid fillers. You want a center that will freeze hard and hold the cold.

This and the rest of these steps will require level or near level freezer space. I was working with sixty pieces (forty needed, plus accounting for testers and meltdowns) so I had to have room for three cookie sheets of twenty pieces each. If you don’t have enough baking sheets you can use buttered tinfoil-wrapped cardboard for the freezer storing portion of this process.

Brownies and ice cream cubes.Prep the brownie bases before cutting your cubes. They may have a natural slope from the cup pan, flip them so the smaller surface is up. Cut your ice cream cubes, small. They shouldn’t hang over or come to the edge of the base.

Brush the surface of the brownie with your favorite booze (or booze substitute). My choice was Bailey’s Irish Cream (a gift from the landlord) although a flavored liqueur would rock as well, like lemon or coconut. Center the cubes and pop that tray back in the freezer as soon as you can. You might be able to get away with four hours freezing on these, I gave it overnight because I had the time.

Day Three – Meringue domes! Mise en place – it’s important to measure and prep all your ingredients before embarking on making this meringue. I don’t use cream of tartar, but you can. I made mine in small, two-egg batches because I wasn’t sure how much I’d need. I think I got about twenty domes per. Make sure all your bowls and utensils are clean and dry, and no yolk drips remaining from the separation. Egg whites are finicky devils. Have a cup of cool water and large tablespoon set aside for shaping the domes. Have a decorator’s bag, or zip-top bag with small corner cut out, for piping the meringue. Leave sheets in the freezer until ready to pipe.

2 large egg whites, beaten ’til foamy; add a pinch of tartar if you like. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup of fine or superfine sugar (whipping it in a blender or with a stick blender will break regular sugar down to a respectable useability). Beat until you get stiff peaks that have a wee bit of sheen.

Wee, meringue igloos.One sheet at a time, pipe the meringue around the ice cream/brownie nuggets. I found that starting at the bottom and swirling around from above worked well. However you do it, make sure your bottom ring of piping connects to the top of the brownie base, creating that seal. Check and fill in any gaps in the piping before moving on to the next nugget. You want to have a minimum quarter inch thickness of meringue surrounding the ice cream for good insulation. Work fast.

The spoon comes in handy for touching up any problem bulges and getting that good ‘domey’ shape. Again with the freezing. If you can leave them in for a day, or at least overnight, to get a good hard freeze on, so much the better. I had a concern about the meringue and moisture so, after an hour of freezing time, I laid a sheet of parchment paper over the top to limit air exposure just in case. Consider this optional, even if the meringue gets a little sticky in the freezer it will bake off just fine.

Day Four – The Baking of the Igloos happens at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. This is a bake & eat desert so only cook as many as you think will be eaten within minutes after emerging from the oven. The only reason ours were not flaming is because we had no flambé . Which means I will certainly have to try this again.