This is my twin brother David's favourite dessert. Whenever he comes to the restaurant, we always make this for him and it often even graces the table at Christmas. You're going to be using shop-bought ice cream and cake, so it's worth spending a little time making a perfect shape for the meringue to pipe on
- 16 slices of madeira cake, each about 2cm (3/4in) thick (shop bought)
- 600 ml (1 pint) block vanilla ice cream (shop bought)
- 4 egg whites
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
- 100 g (4oz) caster sugar
- chocolate fudge sauce, to serve
- crème anglaise, to serve
- fresh raspberries, to decorate
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tblsp caster sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
- 300 ml (1/2 pint) milk
- 100 ml (3 1/2fl oz) cream
- 25 g (1oz) caster sugar
- 25 g (1oz) butter
- 150 ml (1/4 pint) cream
- 175 g (6oz) plain chocolate, finely chopped (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- Using a 5cm (2in) straight-sided cutter, stamp out discs from each slice of cake (you need 12 discs). Using the same cutter, punch out 4 discs of ice cream and then cut each one into 3 slices across the equator so that you end up with 12 discs of ice cream in total.
- Working quickly so that the ice cream doesn’t melt, place 4 discs of cake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put an ice cream disc on top. Cover with another cake disc and then put an ice cream disc on top. Finally, cover with the rest of the cake discs and put in the freezer to firm up for at least 30 minutes. If you want to prep ahead, you’ll need to wrap them individually in clingfilm so they don’t dry out.
- Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean, dry, large bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and the vanilla seeds until they’re almost forming stiff peaks. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking until stiff and shiny after each addition.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1cm (1/2in) plain nozzle with meringue and start to pipe in rows from the bottom to the top of each cake and ice cream tower. Decorate the top with little peaks of meringue. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours to firm up.
- Using a blowtorch, cook the meringue until it’s golden brown but the ice cream is still frozen in the middle. This can also be done in an oven preheated to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6) for 6–8 minutes, but I find it works best with the blowtorch.
- To serve, carefully lift the baked Alaskas off the baking sheet with a fish slice and put on plates. Drizzle around the chocolate fudge sauce and crème anglaise and decorate with the raspberries.
- Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until pale and thickened.
- Place the milk and cream in a medium pan and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.
- Gradually whisk the heated milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then pour back into the pan and place over a gentle heat. Cook gently for 6–8 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Serve hot or transfer to a large bowl. Press a sheet of clingfilm directly onto the surface of the custard to help prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool, then chill until needed. It can also be put into a squeezy bottle depending on how you want to use it. Use warm or cold as required.
- Place the sugar, butter and cream in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 4–5 minutes, until thickened and beginning to become syrupy, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from catching. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.
- Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted. Whisk the chocolate into the sauce until smooth and well combined. This is ready to serve warm or transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely, then cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed. Use warm or cold as required.
- This will keep happily for up to 1 week covered with clingfilm in the fridge.
These baked Alaskas can be made up to 2 days in advance – any longer and they will get freezer burn. If they are wrapped individually in clingfilm before the meringue goes on, they will be fine for up to 1 week.