A show-stopping Baked Alaska Ice Cream Pie with strawberry ice cream, salted pretzel crust, and toasted meringue topping. The perfect salty-sweet frozen treat for any summer celebration!
Do you ever find yourself looking through old cookbooks and food magazines? I can recall flipping through pages of my grandmother’s (dare I say, “vintage”) cookbooks, looking for old-school recipes that I might be able to reinvent with a modern twist. I know this is an obvious statement, but cookbooks and food magazines sure have changed over the decades.
Instead of using glossy, color photos and personalized food narratives and headnotes from the recipe developer or editor to help sell the food, recipes used to be much more straight to the point. One other aspect that really stands out to me is that lack of instructions. Older cookbooks assume the reader already knows a lot about general cooking techniques. Now days, it seems like every single step is included, down to the ounce, exact cook times, and pinch of salt.
I find myself a bit torn over this concept of “over-explaining.” I understand that some readers/cooks need a bit more direction, but part of me feels that as recipe writers, we are teaching people just how to follow instructions instead of how to really cook. Personally, I love non-recipes with cooking – using ratios and adjusting to taste. Baking is definitely more of a science, but I find it important to know what creamed butter and sugar looks like or how to test the doneness of a cake, instead of just going off the oven timer. Writing my cookbook, each weight and time needed to be as precise as possible. In the end, I am thankful for all the read marks my copy editor made on my manuscript whenever this type of information was missing because I wanted everyone to have the most success baking through my book as possible, it was a big contrast than those old cookbooks that threw in step like supreme a citrus, make a hollandaise, or blanche veggies without any further explanation.
While there is plenty to be learned from those older food publications, I am thrilled to get my hands on Better Homes and Gardens’ latest magazine, Get Together. It’s full of gorgeous, glossy images, party inspiration, and delicious recipes. This is definitely this kind of evolution in the magazine world that I can get behind 100%. Plus, there are so many great ideas for summer entertaining that I can’t wait to try over the next few, sunny months.
One of my favourite features from the new magazine is their Party Like It’s 1965 soirée. The spread boasts vintage details and #throwback recipes like cocktail meatballs, a modern fondue that’s totally on point, and glamorous, classic cocktails – all with a chic, Mad Men feel.
To Celebrate the new magazine, a handful of bloggers (including myself), were asked to play along my sharing our own 1960's inspired dessert recipes. My research for this assignment included a lot of Jello holds, pineapple upside-down cake and other treats featuring Maraschino cherries (I'm looking at you, Ambrosia "salad"), tropicial-inspired treats, and mint - all bringing me back to my grandmother's kitchen and her old cookbooks. Another popular dessert of this decade was Baked Alaska: a simple cake topped with a mound of ice cream that’s been slathered in meringue before being toasted up to golden perfection. The idea of fire and ice is always a show-stopper!!
For my retro dessert, I ultimately decided on this Baked Alaska Ice Cream Pie. Instead of a cake base, this dessert comes together in the form of a pie. SO easy, yet still super impressive with the toasted swirls of meringue! I opted for a pretzel-graham crust to pair with strawberry ice cream – the perfect salty/sweet balance that I always crave. The pie refreezes beautifully – the texture of the meringue actually gets better after a few hours in the freezer, but is still heavenly and delicious just after being torched, too.
If this were one of my grandmother’s old school cookbooks, the method here would probably just read “prepare and bake the crust” and “make the meringue.” Luckily, in today’s digital age, I am not worried about sticking to a word count and don’t mind sharing a bit more towards creating Baked Alaska Ice Cream Pie bliss =)
Baked Alaska Ice Cream Pie
¾ cup crushed pretzel crumbs, lightly salted
¾ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup instant milk powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pint strawberry ice cream, slightly thawed
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir the pretzel crumbs, graham crumbs, sugar, and milk powder together in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until combined.
Empty the mixture into a 9-inch pie tin. Press the mixture into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the tin. Bake for about 9 to 10 minutes. The crust should firm up a bit and will be very fragrant. Let crust completely cool before filling.
Scoop the softened ice cream into the cooled crust. Using an offset spatula, begin to shape the ice cream so that there is a mound in the center – leaving a bit of room near the top edge of the crust for the meringue topping. Freeze until solid, or overnight.
4 large egg whites
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer, gently whisk together the egg whites and sugar by hand. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 150-160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once hot, carefully move the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on high until stiff peaks (about 8 minutes) and the outside of the mixing bowl returns to room temperature. Add in the vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds.
Using an offset spatula, spread the meringue on top of the chilled ice cream. Lightly toast with a kitchen torch or place under the broiler just until browned. Serve immediately or place back in the freezer.