Northwest NEWS

May 15, 2000

Home & Garden

Dining In: Deliciously different desserts

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

   Chocolate or plain loaf cake, 13 to 16 oz.
   1 pint chocolate ice cream, slightly softened (see note)
   1 pint strawberry ice cream, slightly softened
   1/2 c. lukewarm water
   3 Tbsp. dehydrated egg whites
   2/3 c. sugar
   1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
   Ice cubes
   1 c. strawberries (for garnish)

   At least eight hours before serving the Baked Alaska, cut off the domed top part of the cake and set it aside for another use. Slice the remaining rectangle of cake horizontally, making two slices, each about 1-inch thick. Place the bottom slice of cake on a heat-proof plate or cake rack covered with foil. Spread the chocolate ice cream over the cake, making a thick, even layer about 1-1/2 inches thick. Place the cake and ice cream, uncovered, in the freezer to solidify, 1-2 hours. Set the second cake layer on top of the chocolate ice cream. Spead the strawberry ice cream over it. Set in the freezer to solidify, 1-2 hours. At this point, you can cover the ice cream and cake with plastic wrap and keep in the freezer for 1-2 days. Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

   For the meringue, carefully clean a large bowl and the blades of a hand-held beater to remove any traces of grease. Dry them with paper towels. Pour the water into the bowl. Stir in the egg white powder and let it sit 3 minutes. It will be lumpy. Starting on low speed, beat the egg whites until they are frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed of the beater. When the whites are fluffy and opaque, start sprinkling in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Beat until the egg whites are glossy and thick enough to make stiff peaks, about 8 minutes.

   Scoop the meringue into a pastry bag. Pipe it to cover the ice cream, working vertically around the sides, and horizontally over the top. Dot rosettes along the edges of the top, bottom, and corners. Or, spread out the meringue over the frozen loaf of cake and ice cream with a spatula, making a thick layer and using a swirling motion to make the meringue look nice.

   Fill a large, shallow baking dish with ice cubes. Set it on the oven rack. Place the Baked Alaska on top of the ice. Bake until the meringue is lightly colored, with darker ridges and points, 4-5 minutes, watching it carefully. Using a sharp knife, cut the Baked Alaska into slices. Serve immediately, garnishing the slices with fresh strawberries. Each of the 8 servings contains 274 calories and 1 gram of fat.

   Note: In place of the two pints of ice cream, you can cut two slices, each 1-1/2 inches thick, from a half-gallon brick, trimming them to fit the cake. Stack all the cake and ice cream at one time, and freeze.

Strawberries 'n' Cream Pizza

   1-1/2 c. flour
   1/2 c. butter or margarine, cold and sliced
   1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
   3 1.4-oz. packets chocolate-covered toffee bits
   1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
   1 c. powdered sugar
   1 qt. fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
   Prepared whipped cream

   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, butter, and nuts; mix until blended. Press mixture on bottom of 12-inch pizza plate or pan. Bake 10 minutes. Immediately sprinkle hot crust with 2 packets of toffee bits, distributing evenly over crust. Set aside to cool. Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; beat until blended and smooth. Spread evenly over cooled crust to within 1/2-inch of crust edge. Arrange strawberries, cut-side down, in circular rows over cheese mixture. Decorate top of pizza with whipped cream in a spiral design, starting at center and ending at crust edges. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits over top. Makes 8-12 servings.

Butterscotch Pear Tarts

   10 oz. frozen puff pastry shells
   8 oz. cream cheese, softened
   1/3 c. sugar
   2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
   1 tsp. vanilla extract
   1 can (16 oz.) pear slices, drained
   1/4 c. prepared butterscotch ice cream topping

   Thaw pastry shells 30 minutes at room temperature. On floured surface, roll each pastry shell to 6-inch circle; arrange three circles each on two ungreased baking sheets. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla; beat well. Divide filling evenly among pastry circles, spreading to within 1/2-inch of outside edge. Bake in preheated 425-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes or until pastry is golden, switching position of pans in oven for more even baking. Cool completely on baking sheets. Divide pear slices evenly and arrange in center of each pastry. Drizzle pastries evenly with butterscotch syrup. Makes 6 tarts.