Did you all have a good Christmas? I hope so. My parents and I had a wonderful day. After a quick breakfast, it was time to open presents. Dad loves his new watch, fleece pullover, French cuff shirts, and movie, among others. Unfortunately Mom will be returning some of her gifts, but is enjoying an eye shadow, some track suits, and some awesome Moon wrapping paper from the Neiman Marcus Target collection. I got some movies and books, including a personalized and autographed Aida Mollencamp cookbook, a few stuffed animals, makeup, and a Gucci key chain, which I am in total love with.
A couple days before Christmas, we had a family shopping outing. We used to go shopping all together constantly, but with busy and ever changing schedules, it is now a rarity. Mom and I each bought a pair of earrings as part of our Christmas presents. We’ll pick them up in the New Year as mine had to be converted into clips. Have I ever told you guys I don’t have pierced ears and have no intentions of doing so? Just another quirk that makes me unique (or weird, depending on how you look at it). In addition we opened a few presents since we were all dressed up. On Christmas, I like to chill out and relax, which means no getting ready, which means I’m camera shy. So it was nice to have a few memories of the season.
After all the present opening ended, we made pumpkin whoopie pies. They were better than ever and I updated the post with some new photos. You should totally check it out because we all agree there might not be a better dessert than pumpkin whoopie pies. Steaks were on the menu for dinner, but who cares when you have two giant cakey cookies stuffed with homemade marshmallow fluff waiting for you?
My only complaint about Christmas is that not every day can be that fun, special, and relaxing. I didn’t even turn on my computer! It is a reminder that any day can be just like that, perhaps without all the presents, if we take a little time to make it special.
A few weeks before Christmas my aunt was kind enough to send us some gelato from Zingerman’s. Zingerman’s is one of my favorite bakeries to visit and one of the best places to mail order gifts from whether for someone else or yourself. Their products are of amazing quality, matched only by their customer service. Case in point: the gelato had six pints, three of which were chocolate :( Oh, no! But one quick call to Zingerman’s customer service had a stollen in the mail and to us in the blink of an eye. It is now in my freezer screaming my name, waiting to be eaten. Rest assured, my neighbors are enjoying the chocolate gelato.
But that left me with three pints of gelato. With baking almost constantly, I rarely sit down to a bowl of ice cream any longer, but that gelato is so, so good. I couldn’t let it go to waste. As I stared at a tray full of leftover whoopie pies and a KitchenAid bowl full of marshmallow, which is really Italian meringue, I got an idea. I’ll make Baked Alaska. I think I’ve actually only had it once at a restaurant but loved it. Once you have all the ingredients ready, it’s really simple to prepare too. I just took a whoopie pie, covered it with a mound of slightly softened and scoopable ice cream and put if back in the freezer for a few hours. A heaping helping of marshmallow/meringue without any holes later, it went into a preheated broiler for about a minute and was golden brown and totally, amazingly, delicious. Sweet, smooth, and a little sticky, the meringue was slightly hardened on the outside. Then came the ice cream, vanilla, and maple pecan, barely melted, but soft enough to easily eat. And the bottom? That soft, moist, slightly spicy whoopie pie. The combination of temperatures, textures, and flavors is incredible, as you venture from warm to cold, soft to crunchy (from pecans) to cakey, vanilla to maple to cinnamon.
In addition, the flavor combinations are endless. I highly recommend using the Italian meringue, though you could flavor it with cinnamon, but from there any flavors of ice cream would be wonderful. It is great if they have something crunchy in them to add texture but this is not necessary. The base could be any cake or even a large cookie you have on hand. We used one whoopie pie and a little more than ½ a pint of ice cream with tons of meringue and it was a very nice size. The three of us shared it and had plenty. Once you have all the components prepared, making the Baked Alaska itself is so easy and super impressive. All your friends at your New Year’s Eve party will be so impressed to see you serving this.
- Line a paper plate with plastic wrap. Place whoopie pie on the plastic. Take a generous scoop of maple pecan gelato and place it on top of the whoopie pie. Leave about a ½ inch border of cake, but spread the gelato to cover the rest of the cake. Take a generous scoop of vanilla gelato and spread on top of the maple pecan gelato. Wrap the plastic up around the entire thing and press the gelato together so it forms an oval shape. Freeze for at least 2 hours and up to 12.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat broiler. Remove the frozen cake and ice cream from the freezer, unwrap it, and place it on the tray. Cover the entire thing with meringue. Be very generous and do not leave any ice cream or cake uncovered. Try to make some pretty peaks in the meringue before placing under the broiler for about 1 minute. Keep a very close eye on it and do not walk away from the oven, as it can burn very easily. Serve immediately.