Ina Garten's Brilliant Shortcuts For Homemade Baked Alaska

For bakers, Baked Alaska represents the Mount Everest of baking projects. An amalgamation of cake, ice cream, and meringue all piled into a gorgeous dome, Baked Alaska feels like a dessert that can only be made in the controlled environment of a restaurant kitchen. But the grand dame of fancy entertaining made easy, Ina Garten, wants to take the intimidation out of this impressive dessert. 

In an interview with Bon Appétit, Garten revealed her ultimate tip for bakers to bring this elegant dessert home: Cut your work in half by heading to the supermarket for the ice cream-and-sorbet marbled center and pound cake base. 

Of course, Garten doesn't want to you grab just any old ice cream from the store: She recommends investing in the highest quality stuff you can find. And for her, that means snagging Talenti Raspberry Sorbet and Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream for her frozen base. As for the cake, she admits it's a rather inconsequential part of the dessert and can definitely be supplied by a pre-made one. 

According to Garten, a high-quality version of pound cake is one that is "nice and brown" and looks "like it's oozing butter."

Store-bought is fine

With that stuff out of the way, Garten can focus on the key parts of Baked Alaska, i.e. making the meringue, nailing the shaping, and perfecting an epically tangy raspberry sauce. In the recipe, which was described by Bon Appétit, she swirls raspberry sorbet with vanilla ice cream and scoops it onto a layer of vanilla pound cake. From there, she generously coats the dessert with toasty peaks of meringue and spoonfuls of raspberry sauce. It's a lot to accomplish for a dessert and it's actually achievable with two of the four components store-bought. 

It took Garten 15 recipe tests to land on this perfect plan, so trust this is as good as it gets. 

Her final pro-tip? Opt for Swiss meringue rather than French or Italian meringue, as its spongy marshmallow-like texture holds up best under the blast of high heat needed to toast it. Above all, Garten wants to make sure bakers aren't held back by the complexity of a Baked Alaska. After all, it's a treat everyone deserves to become acquainted with.