Sometimes it's difficult to decide what kind of cupcake I should make next. Do I go with an old favorite and spice it up with a cute decoration, or do I try a new recipe and hope that it's delicious? I suppose it's nice that the dilemmas of a cupcake blogger are pretty small.
This guy had his eye on me while I was baking
I can be helpful to have a competition to give you inspiration. I saw that Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious are hosting a cupcake and ice cream competition!
Allie does! I enlisted Allie to help me with this cupcake so that we could combine our individual powers to become Captain Planet! OK, not Captain Planet, but maybe Captain Cupcake?
Anyway, I had never made an ice cream cake before. I wasn't really sure what to do. After several email exchanges of brainstorming, we decided to do a cupcake version of a Baked Alaska. What's a Baked Alaska? It's a layer of cake with ice cream on top, covered in a dome of meringue. The cake is then quickly placed into a very hot oven so that the meringue can turn a golden brown color and baked immediately. I don't even think that it's from Alaska to be honest with you.
It was decided that I would provide the cake, Allie would bring the ice cream, and then we would cover those cuppies in meringue.
PART 1 - Cupcake
For the cake, I decided to go with a chocolate pound cake. I used a recipe from one of my new books, Cake Love. It was the first thing that I made from it, but I already love the book. It's written by Warren Brown, who went to law school, became a lawyer, decided that he hated it, and opened a cake store instead (also called Cake Love). The book has heartfelt anecdotes to the recipes and gorgeous pictures. My only gripe is that there is a lot of use of unusual ingredients. In fact, the chocolate pound cake that I used called for vanilla powder. I couldn't find it at the local food co-op or Williams-Sonoma, so I gave up. It came out delicious nonetheless!
You can use any pound cake (or cake recipe, really) that you like. The only thing is that you do not want a lot of cake in your cupcake liners so that there is space for the ice cream. I used a small ice cream scoop to just cover the liners with about 1/2 inch of batter. It took only about 10 minutes for it to bake, so keep an eye on the oven!
PART 2: Ice Cream
Once the cupcakes are completely cool, it's time to introduce ice cream and cupcake to each other. Again, you can use whatever kind of ice cream you would like. Allie made strawberry ice cream (a good match for the chocolate cake). Allow the ice cream to cool a little and then scoop it on top of the cake. It is much easier if you leave the cupcakes inside the tin. You can pack it down with a spoon and level it with a knife if necessary. Place the cupcakes in the freezer and allow them to re-freeze for at least 3 hours. You can even leave it overnight if you would like.
PART 3: Meringue
Once the cuppies are sufficiently frozen, it's time to frost them with meringue! I used Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue, which has a nice marshmallow-like fluffiness and flavor to it. In order to not have your cupcakes melt away while decorating, decorate one at a time and keep the rest in the freezer. Allie and I used Wilton 1M tip and Ateco 7. We experimented with swirls and little puffs, as you can see below:
Allie's beautiful creation
I think I made this?
Would you believe that Allie had never used a pastry tip before today?
PART 4: Browning the meringue
The last and trickiest part: baking the meringue. One option is to pre-heat the oven to as hot as it can go and then place the cuppies in there until the meringue starts to just brown and then remove. I don't know about you, but we thought that sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. I decided to invest in a kitchen torch, instead. They are probably better known for their use in making creme brulee. For some reason, I thought that it would come ready to use, but one actually needs to purchase butane lighter fluid first. I was a little nervous about filling up the kitchen torch, so I had Jack ready with the fire extinguisher just in case...
It was actually pretty easy to do in retrospect. Also, using the torch to brown the meringue was the most fun that I have had in the kitchen... EVER.
Allie having the time of her life
We were definitely giggling and dancing around the kitchen as we made these.
If you end up using a torch, you don't need to hold the flame all that close... because you don't want the meringue to catch on fire....
You can see the beautiful transition of the meringue in this image
And there you have it! Baby Baked Alaska Cuppies!
If you don't want to eat them all in a row, put them back in the tin and keep them in the freezer until you are ready to serve. I wouldn't make them more than a couple of hours ahead of when you plan on serving them, however.
PART 5: Eat!
People really liked these! It's a perfect combination of cake, ice cream, and meringue topping. Jack even said that they were the best cupcake ever. How am I going to top that?
Noting like an ice cream cupcake post-run
Another thing that I liked about these is that they look beautiful after the browning of the meringue. You can really see the details from using a pastry tip.
This is a great summer cupcake... I hope that you give it a try :)