DB: I heart brown butter in a Baked Alaska and Ice Cream Petits Fours

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 Petits Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop.”

Brown butter is truly wonderful. What`s not to love? It’s butter that is melted and cooked until the dairy turns a deep golden. As the butter simmers, the kitchen fills with the scent of melted butter. After a few minutes, you are left with the aroma of a nut-butter that is (you guessed it) a buttery color, flecked with delicious caramelized dairy-bits. Yum! It smells delish. It tastes delish. And thus, I deem it wonderful. The first time I made brown butter was for Julia Child’s recipe for madeleines (I’m pretty sure it’s in this book, but I could be completely wrong), which called for brown butter for both the cake-y-cookie batter, and for buttering the madeleine tins. The recipe for her madeleines is great and worked like a charm (even for I, in 2004, a novice baker who had never made browned butter, nor baked madeleines before!). I haven’t attempted either the madeleines, or the brown butter since then.

As I browned the butter for this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge, I realized that I heart brown butter! Why have I not made/baked with it more? I imagined the potential recipes that I could bake with my new love. This batch of brown butter was destined for the brown butter pound cake from Gourmet 2009 (Gourmet, I miss you so much!). The pound cake was a cinch to prepare once the brown butter was cooled enough to use. Since I had lots of desserts to prepare with the cake, I opted to divide the cake batter among 2 muffin tins. This way, I ended up with 12 neat, mini pound cakes, perfect for transforming into individual baked Alaskas and petits fours (perhaps a little large for that title, so let’s call them chocolate-dipped ice cream cakewiches). The pound cake muffins took 25 minutes to bake up at the recommended oven temperature.

I find that meringue topping can be a bit overwhelming if it is paired with a sweet dessert. So instead of opting for a traditional vanilla ice cream for the baked Alaskas, I was inspired by lemon meringue pie, and I opted for lemon ice cream as the filling. This was sheer brilliance. My baked Alaskas tasted just like a frozen lemon meringue pie! Here are some pics from the baked-Alaska-assembly-process.
Here are my sliced pound cake muffins, topped with lemon ice cream, which I pre-froze in plastic wrap lined muffin tins so that they would fit perfectly on my pound cake muffin bottoms (I ate the tops that I sliced off. Waste not, want not!).
I topped each with a nice mound of meringue.
Then I broiled them until they were just beginning to caramelize on top (ideally, I would have liked to use a blow torch to do this more evenly without melting the ice cream….).
As usual, I ate one straight off the baking sheet (what else were you expecting from me, really?), and I forgot to plate them nicely for a pretty picture. It’s not my fault: I got really excited to try them. The combination of lemon ice cream with the nutty brown butter pound cake and the meringue was great, definitely like lemon meringue pie, but more refreshing.
Along the same idea as for the baked Alaskas, I split a couple of my pound cake muffins into 2 layers each. Then I sandwiched my homemade chai ice cream between the layers, and coated with the ganache. I refroze them, et voilà! 
The sweet, spiced chai ice cream went perfectly with the semi-sweet dark chocolate, and the nutty brown butter pound cake. I’m glad I opted to make a second ice cream, rather than use the lemon ice cream for the petits fours, i.e. chocolate-dipped ice cream cakewiches. I don’t think the lemon flavor would have worked here. 
Conclusion: Time well spent and loads of fun!
My first Daring Bakers challenge was great (laborious, but great!). Can’t wait for what’s to come!

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8 Responses to DB: I heart brown butter in a Baked Alaska and Ice Cream Petits Fours

  1. Claudia August 28, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    I heart brown butter also! Your Baked Alaska looks wonderfully inviting. Kudos to you for meeting the challenge.

  2. Renata August 28, 2010 at 3:12 am #

    They are both stunning! Yummmyyy

  3. Eileen August 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm #


  4. Belinda @zomppa August 29, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    I heart yours!! These look way to good.

  5. savy cook August 29, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    looks fab!

  6. The Mom Chef August 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    That’s gorgeous. What a great idea. I love the lemon ice cream on the cupcake bottom. Well done!

  7. Christina August 30, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Great flavor combo! They sound wonderful!

  8. Joyce September 6, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    They look awesome! I’ve always wanted to make a Baked Alaska and I might just follow your idea to use a cupcake bottom!

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