Why This Recipe Works
Plenty of insulation is the key to a Baked Alaska that is toasty on the outside but still firm at the center. To this end, most recipes cover the ice cream in mountains of billowy meringue, which is effective but makes the dessert too sweet.
Most recipes use cake only as a base, but we use it to encase the ice cream entirely, thereby decreasing the amount of meringue by more than one-third without sacrificing heat resistance. To further improve the balance, we add cocoa to our cake, boosting flavor without adding sweetness.
Rather than packing softened ice cream into a specifically shaped mold (refrozen ice cream can be icy, and it can be hard to match cake pans and bowls), we simply cut the cardboard off two pints of firm ice cream and stick them together to form the core of our dessert. We opt for coffee ice cream, which complements the flavor of the cake and the sweetness of the meringue perfectly.