Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cakes by Editors of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, 2013)
1. Make the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Sift 11/3 cups sugar, the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, combine oil, the warm water, and vanilla.
2. With a mixer on medium-high speed, whisk egg yolks until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. With mixer on medium-low, slowly pour oil mixture into yolks, then add sugar mixture.
3. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed, gradually adding remaining 2/3 cup sugar, until medium-stiff peaks form. Mix one third of the whites into cake batter, then gently fold in remaining whites.
4. Divide batter evenly between baking sheets; spread with an offset spatula. Bake until cakes are set and spring back when touched, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks to cool completely.
5. Assemble the baked Alaskas: Coat six 10-to-12-ounce bowls or ramekins with cooking spray; line with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Cut out 6 cake rounds to fit in bottoms of bowls (we used a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter), and place in each bowl. Microwave ice cream to soften, about 20 seconds (or leave at room temperature
10 minutes), then transfer to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and spreadable, about 30 seconds. Top each with 1/3 cup chocolate ice cream, smoothing surface with an offset spatula. Cut out 6 cake rounds to fit on top of ice cream (we used a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter), and place on ice cream. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes. (Return ice cream to freezer.)
6. Top each cake with another 1/3 cup ice cream, smoothing surface. Cut out 6 cake rounds to fit in bowl (we used a 4-inch round cookie cutter), and place on ice cream. (This should fit just at the top of the bowl.) Cover assembled cakes with plastic overhang, and freeze at least 4 hours (or up to 3 days).
7. Unmold: Remove plastic wrap from top, flip cakes onto a baking sheet, and peel off plastic wrap. Freeze cakes while making meringue.
8. Make the meringue: Preheat oven to 500°F. Heat egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisking, until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. With an electric mixer on medium-high, whisk until meringue is cool and forms stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.
9. Use an offset spatula to spread each assembled cake with 1 cup meringue, swooping it into peaks. Bake until meringue is browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, hold a small kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle, 3 to 4 inches from surface of meringue, moving flame back and forth until meringue is browned and caramelized. Serve immediately.