“Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure.”
Voters in the land of the last frontier chose to become pot pioneers on November 4, when Alaskans legalized possession of up to one ounce, six live plants and a regulated, commercial distribution system. Along with victories in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and D.C., the tipping point has been reached, with citizens now emboldened to reform drug laws and end prohibition. Celebrating this momentous legalization occasion required a bold dessert that would pack a sizeable dose, and so what could be better than a Very Baked Alaska?!
Originally, the name “Baked Alaska” was bestowed on a confection formerly known as a Norwegian omelette in 1876 by the chef de cuisine at New York’s famous Delmonico steakhouse to honor the recently acquired territory. One of the greatest re-brandings in culinary history, Baked Alaska became a staple on menus at high-end hotels and restaurants through the 1970s, when its status as a fancy treat for elite eaters faded into stuffy, old-fashioned obscurity. Composed of a sponge cake topped with ice cream and smothered in meringue, the dessert is baked quickly at high heat. Insulated by the meringue layer, the ice cream barely melts. Torching the meringue tableside makes for an impressive display that’s sure to delight your guests, so get fired up and prepare to blaze a beautiful Baked Alaska!
You can infuse the dessert in two places, the ice cream and the cake, for maximum potency, or you can use store-bought ice cream and double the dose on the cake for a simpler version. I used some hash ice cream I had on hand, and chose a chiffon cake for an additional infusion. It’s not a dessert that will keep well after torching, so you want to consume it all in one session. Keep your portion size in mind, and create a small or large Baked Alaska depending on the amount of eaters. You can bake the cake a day or two ahead of time, and then assemble and serve the Very Baked Alaska to a party of friends!
Very Baked Alaska
Very Baked Alaska:
Equipment: candy thermometer, electric mixer, two 9” circular springform cake pans or a 9” x 13” sheet cake pan, 7.5” x 5” loaf pan
Note: This recipe makes a small loaf of Very Baked Alaska suitable for serving 6 – 8 people. You will have extra cake leftover. If you have differently sized pans, don’t despair. You can cover the entire chiffon cake in ice cream and meringue and make a much bigger Baked Alaska, simply double the meringue ingredients and have some extra ice cream on hand.
First, infuse your canola oil by combining the oil and cannabis in a double boiler over medium heat. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Use the candy thermometer to check the infusion temperature, it should reach 240ºF for at least 30 – 45 minutes. Strain your cannabis and reserve the oil, let cool.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Make sure your cake pans are clean and free of grease.
Use a fine metal mesh strainer of sifter to sift your flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and add the infused oil, egg yolks, vanilla and lemon extract to this well in that order. Set aside and don’t beat yet!
Use a second large mixing bowl to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Use the same beaters to beat the dry ingredients and the well ingredients together until smooth and light. Pour this batter into the egg whites, folding the two mixtures together with a gentle turn of a rubber spatula. Do not stir! Pour the batter into your cake pan and bake for 55 minutes. Increase the heat to 350ºF for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove cake from oven and let cool on a rack.
Invert the pan to release the cake, using a butter knife around the edges to loosen if necessary. Wrap your cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to create the Very Baked Alaska. (Can save cake for 1 or 2 days in fridge.)
When you’re ready to assemble, let your ice cream soften up to room temperature until it’s easy to scoop. Cut a piece of cake to fit inside your loaf pan. Line the loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spoon a layer of ice cream into the loaf pan, then top with the cake piece. Place loaf pan in freezer for at least an hour.
After an hour, make your meringue. Combine sugar, corn syrup and water into a large pot and place on high heat. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves, the use the candy thermometer to check the temperature of syrup. You want it to reach 240ºF.
While syrup is cooking, combine your egg whites, salt and vanilla in an electric mixer and turn on high speed for 5 minutes until mixture begins to stiffen into peaks.
Once your syrup hits 240ºF, remove from heat and slowly pour syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream while the mixer runs on low speed. Once all the syrup is added, turn mixer speed up to high for 8 to 10 minutes until very stiff peaks form.
Remove your loaf pan from freezer and invert onto a baking sheet. Remove plastic wrap. Cover the loaf of ice cream and cake completely with meringue, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Make sure meringue seals the cake loaf to the baking sheet.
Bring your creation out to your party guests. Use your blowtorch to brown the meringue completely, and then cut and serve your Very Baked Alaska. Enjoy the taste of freedom!
Safety Note: Depending on the potency of your infusion and homemade hash ice cream, dosage will vary. Start with a small piece and wait 2 hours before consuming more!