Friday, August 27, 2010

Baked Alaska: White Nectarine Ice Cream with Brown Butter Pound Cake


The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. 

Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.


The beautiful thing about making a Baked Alaska is the ability to create any flavor combination you can imagine.

In this challenge, bakers were required to use the brown butter pound cake, but given the freedom to use any ice cream flavor - just as long as it was homemade.

Brown butter lends a very toasty, nutty flavor to its component, so I was initially a bit unsure what ice cream flavor to pair with it, keeping in mind the dessert was still being served during the summer heat.


Luckily, I stumbled upon beautiful white nectarines at the farmer's market and decided to create a beautiful, lightly pink ice cream from the juicy fruits.

I spooned the freshly spun ice cream, still slightly soft, straight from the ice cream machine into the little bowls prepared with a layer of plastic wrap.  I leveled the ice cream off with the side of a small offset, covered the base with the overhanging plastic wrap and placed in the freezer.

With the ice cream part of the dessert prepared, it was time to brown some butter for the pound cake.

Browning butter is a very easy process and, while it requires a bit of attention, the results are well worth the effort.


From start to finish, the process of browning butter only takes about five minutes.  As soon as the butter begins to smell nutty and toasted, a beautiful scent which will fill every corner of your house, remove from the heat.

For this recipe, I poured the browned butter into a bowl and placed in the freezer for about 30 minutes - just long enough for the butter to firm up again.


When the brown butter was firm, it was time to whip up the pound cake, which would serve as the base layer of the dessert.

Thirty minutes later, a beautiful golden cake emerged from the oven.  When it was still slightly warm, I removed the cake from the pan to allow it to rest and cool fully on its designated rack.


But I could not resist slicing the tiniest bit off the end of the cake - just for taste testing purposes, you understand.

The taste of this buttery cake is unimaginably decedent, nutty, homey and comforting.  The recipe will be one I use over and over again, especially with my favorite season of fall just a few weeks away.


Then, it was time to assemble the dessert!  I cut a circle from the pound cake, the same width as the bottom of the ice cream layer.  Then, I sliced the circle of pound cake in half, yielding two perfectly proportioned base layers.


Creating the meringue was the next step, the layer to serve as the sweeping curtain over the ice cream and cake.

I could have piped the meringue in a variety of ways around the dessert, but I did not feel like being quite so precise at that moment.  Instead, I used a small, offset spatula to create the elongated swirls around the entire dessert.

After the fresh meringue layer rested in the freezer for about an hour, it was placed in a broiling oven, under a watchful eye, I might add, for about five minutes.


So beautiful!  The outside seemed so ethereal and whimsical and the interior revealed a beautifully portioned dessert.

While this dessert does require a bit of time, how beautiful and fun these individual portions would be for a small dinner party or even a lucky little girl's birthday party.


Baked Alaska: White Nectarine Ice Cream and Brown Butter Pound Cake
ice cream from Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote
pound cake adapted from Daring Baker's Challenge, August 2010
meringue from Dolcetto Confections |Allison M. Veinote
makes 4 individual servings


For the White Nectarine Ice Cream
4 white nectarines
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk

For the Brown Butter Pound Cake
9 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
*Note: to make your own cake flour, sift together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Meringue
8 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup granulated sugar

Preparation Instructions

For the White Nectarine Ice Cream
Cut white nectarines into small cubes.

In a small mixing bowl, create a slurry of cornstarch, a bit of the granulated sugar and some of the milk.  Whisk until smooth.

Place cubed white nectarine, remaining sugar, cream and remaining milk in medium saucepan.  Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Remove boiling mixture from heat.  Stir in cornstarch slurry.  Return mixture to heat and bring to a boil.  Remove mixture from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.

Place large mixing bowl in an ice bath and allow mixture to cool slightly.

When mixture is slightly cooled, remove from ice bath and pour into a blender (or use a stick blender directly in the mixing bowl).  Blend until smooth.

The following morning, spin liquid in ice cream machine until a soft-serve consistency is achieved, about 15 minuets.

For the Brown Butter Pound Cake
Place the butter in a 10” skillet over medium heat.  Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes.  Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Meringue
Beat the egg whites and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions
Line four small bowls or tea cups, approximately 4” diameter, with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge.  Fill to the top with ice cream, straight from the ice cream machine.  Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

From the pound cake, cut out two circles, the same diameter of your bowl or cup.  Using a serrated knife, slice the circles in half.
Make the meringue.
Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round.  Trim any extra cake if necessary.
Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed.  Freeze for one hour or up to a day.
Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch.  Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaska on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden.  Serve immediately.


  1. Wow! I've seen quite a few examples of the latest Daring Bakers Challenge and, while they all look good, yours is really quite beautiful. What a perfect combination of flavors you chose. Lovely photos, too.

  2. Thank you so much Jane! It was lots of fun thinking up flavor combinations for this challenge. And the brown butter pound cake was absolutely addictive!

  3. Very beautiful! White nectarines are one of my favorite fruits. Sounds so refreshing and Summery :) Wonderful job!


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