The Daring Baker’s Challenge:  Baked Alaska with Honey Strawberry Ice Cream and Brown Butter Pound Cake

The Daring Baker’s Challenge: Baked Alaska with Honey Strawberry Ice Cream and Brown Butter Pound Cake

Baked Alaska 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 first decision was which to make.  Since there was a birthday in the family, I went with the full sized Baked Alaska and homemade Honey Strawberry Ice Cream.

Honey Strawberry Ice Cream churning

First the ice cream:

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup chopped strawberries

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the milk, cream and honey to a medium sized sauce pan and warm over medium heat until the honey melts and small bubbles form around the edges of the pan, 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Place in the refrigerator until cold, at least 1 hour.  Add the strawberries and place in the ice cream maker following manufacturer’s directions for freezing.

After the ice cream is finished, place it in a medium sized bowl (measure against the pan you are using for the cake so that the top of the ice cream is the same size as the bottom of your cake pan) lined with plastic wrap.  After filling, fold over the plastic wrap to make sure all of the ice cream is covered.  Place in the freezer until hard, preferably at least overnight.

Next the Browned Butter Pound Cake:

I followed the recipe provided in the challenge, which turned out really well.  It looked beautiful and had a nice rich flavor.  I did find that even though the tester came out clean it was still a little underbaked and I realized I had to put it back in for a few more minutes after the top began to sink.

Browned Butter Cake cooling

Brown Butter Pound Cake 



 19 tablespoons (9.5 oz 275g) unsalted (sweet) butter


) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)    200g2 cups (



) baking powder    5g1 teaspoon (


1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt     

1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar

1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.  (I used a 9″ round pan with removable sides as I wanted to make one large cake rather than smaller ones described in the challenge.)

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

Browned Butter

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. (I used a 9″ round pan with removable sides as I wanted to make one large cake rather than smaller ones.) 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 minutes.

Browned Butter pound cake ready to bake

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

8 large egg whites

cream of tartar  ½ teaspoon




salt  ½ teaspoon

  1 cup (220g) sugar    

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, 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.    

Now for the assembly:

Unwrap the top of the plastic from the ice cream and lift it from the bowl using the plastic wrap as handles, then place upside down over the cooled cake.

Baked Alaska Assembly

Remove the plastic wrap and either with a spatula or piping bag, completely cover the cake and ice cream with meringue.

Baked Alaska ready to bake

Place the prepared cake in the freezer for one hour to make sure everything is as hard as possible.


If you have a baking torch, this is the time to get it out, if not, pre-heat your oven to 550 (or as high as it will go).  Place the cake on a sheetpan in the oven just until the meringue begins to brown – it will be quick so don’t run errands or anything, keep a steady vigil!  Take it out and serve immediately!








Baked Alaska ready to slice







The individual components (cake and ice cream) were delicious, although I’m just not a big fan of ice cream cakes – freezing the cake just seems to remove all the great texture for me and I probably won’t do it again.  I will definitely use the cake again, just not frozen. 














Honey Caramel Sauce

Honey Caramel Sauce


Honey Caramel Sauce


Honey Caramel Sauce


For some reason I’ve been on an ice cream kick lately, although 110 degree desert summer may have something to do with that.  I’ve also been working on using up a giant container of honey I had around as I have read about the health benefits of honey over sugar.  Every year I make and can hot fudge and caramel sauce for holiday gifts, sometimes over 100 jars at a time.  My friends and family start checking with me about this time of year to make sure I’m “doing it this year” so I thought I’d try something a little different this time.  This is an extremely simple recipe that turned out exceptional.  It still tastes mostly like honey, but is thicker with a little of the caramel flavor.  I think next time I might try to see if I can get it a little darker caramel.  For a more traditional Hot Fudge Sauce see here

Honey Caramel Sauce


Honey Caramel Sauce  

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 cups honey
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine honey and cream in a heavy saucepan.  Cook stirring constantly over medium-high heat until it reaches 238°.   Take off the heat, stir in butter, vanilla and salt.   Cool slightly and serve warm, or refrigerate.  Microwave briefly to warm for serving.  

Honey Caramel Sauce

Cool Pictures in the Pool

Cool Pictures in the Pool


Small bubble

Growing bubble


Big Bubble

Through the Bubble

 These have nothing to do with my normal cooking theme, but I think they are pretty cool pictures of son in the pool!

New Orleans style Beignets

New Orleans style Beignets





I first made these when husband was recovering from surgery and they were such a hit, the next day and pretty much every day after that for a while, he requested “tea time” beignets (of course he was on medication and we’ve never had “tea time” anything before but it was quite amusing).   Eventually they were relegated to an occasional treat.  A big warning though, this makes a lot!  The dough is easy to work with, lasts up to a week in the refrigerator (well wrapped in plastic) and can be frozen or you can halve the recipe.  For the frying, I used either a cast iron skillet (my preference) or a large pot which was fine too, just didn’t hold the heat quite as well.  


  • 1/2 cup tepid water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 7 1/2 cups flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. Place water in a small bowl and sprinkle on the yeast allowing it to stand while you do the next step.
  2. Combine the shortening, sugar, and salt in a large food processor bowl. Pour in the boiling water, pulse gently then add the evaporated milk. Cool to lukewarm then add the yeast and water and eggs.
  3. Mix in the flour in small batches, pulsing between, until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be a little on the soft side, in a dry climate probably 7 cups is enough.  
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate  30-60 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick using a portion about the size of an orange. Cut the dough into strips 2 to 3-inches wide, then again to make square or diamond shapes (a pizza cutter works great).
  6. Beignet Dough


  7. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 360 degree F (180 degrees C).
  8. Place the dough in the oil carefully and fry until they puff up and are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes turning half way through. If they don’t rise to the surface quickly, the oil isn’t hot enough. Carefully remove to a rack with paper towels underneath and allow to cool until you can handle them. Place in a clean paper bag with confectioners’ sugar and shake gently until covered generously or, use a sifter to dust the beignets with powdered sugar.


The Daring Cook’s Challenge – Pierogi (shredded pork and potato)

The Daring Cook’s Challenge – Pierogi (shredded pork and potato)

Pierogi filled with Shredded Pork and Potato



The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.  

I went to the “kitchen” store and for $4.99 got a package of 3 different sized plastic forms, although, I eventually found that the ones done with a cup and fork were just as good as sometimes the dough stuck to the form instead of sealing with the opposite edge.  I did find that making sure to rub a little water on the inside of the dough helped with the “sticking” problem.  I decided to make somewhat traditional pierogi using potatoes and pork, with a little twist to make it simpler.  I used left over pulled pork, some frozen, thawed shredded potatoes instead of prepping my own as I didn’t have any leftovers and a food processor instead of kneading the dough.   

First, the dough:  

Pierogi Dough


I used a simple dough recipe I had (at one time I worked with a Russian gentleman whose wife brought him fresh pierogi every day for lunch and she gave me her recipe).  

1/2 cup milk  

1/2 cup whipping cream  

3 large eggs  

1 tsp salt  

3 cups all-purpose flour  

1.  Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides.  

2.  Roll the dough on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch (fairly thin).  

Next the filling:  

Shredded Pork and Potato Filling for Pierogi


2 Tbs butter  

1 small onion  

1 Tbs minced garlic  

1 cup shredded pork  

1 cup shredded potatoes  

salt and pepper to taste  

I fried the onion and potatoes in the butter until soft but not browned, added the pork to heat through.  I’m not a barbecue fan, but you could add some barbecue sauce as well.  

Next forming the pierogi  

Pierogi ready to boil


Cut the dough with a round cutter, pierogi form or round rimmed glass.  Place a spoon full of the filling and either fold the dough in half and press the seams with a fork or close the pierogi form.  

Next boil:  

Pierogi boiled


In a large pan, fill with water, add 1 tsp of salt and bring the water to a boil.  Carefully place the pierogi in the boiling water a few at a time so they don’t overlap and simmer for about 5 minutes after they rise to the surface.  

I have to admit, the boiled perogi were not very photogenic.  They tasted good, but just didn’t look that great.  However, once they were fried (I know, so much for the healthy version), they were really excellent in taste and appearance!  

Using the now boiled pierogi, place a thin layer of oil in a frying pan, heat until just beginning to smoke and add the pierogi in a single layer, frying until brown and crispy.  You could fry them a lighter but I like really crispy.  In our house there is a running discussion over what is crispy as opposed to burnt, but since I’m the cook I usually win!