Baked Alaska

From Academic Kids

Baked Alaska (also known as glace au four, omelette á la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette and omelette surprise) is a dessert made of ice cream, straight from the freezer placed in a pie dish lined with slices of sponge cake, Christmas pudding or similar and topped with meringue. The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven just long enough to firm the meringue.

The meringue is an effective insulator, and in the short cooking time needed, it prevents the heat getting through to the ice cream. Earlier versions used pastry crust or crumbs. The use of meringue was introduced in 1804 by the physicist Benjamin Thompson after investigating the heat resistance of beaten egg whites. This was called omelette surprise omelette á la norvégienne. The dish received the name "Baked Alaska" in 1876 when Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City made it in honour of the newly acquired territory of Alaska. It was popularised worldwide by the chef Jean Giroix in 1895 at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

It was once a popular choice for dinner parties, especially throughout the 1960s but its popularity has waned in recent years.

Baked Alaska recipe

2 pints (1kg) brick-style ice cream
1-inch thick piece sponge cake or layer cake
5 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar

Lay ice cream bricks side by side; measure length and width. Trim cake 1 inch larger on all sides than ice cream measurements. Place cake on a piece of foil. Center ice cream on cake. Cover; freeze till firm. At serving time, beat together egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Transfer cake with ice cream to a baking sheet. Spread with egg white mixture, sealing to edges of cake and baking sheet all around. Swirl to make peaks. Place oven rack in lowest position. Bake in a 500 °F (260 °C) oven about 3 minutes or till golden. Slice; serve immediately.

Serves 8.

Note: If you can't locate brick-style ice cream, reshape the ice cream you have to fit atop a round cake base. Select a mixing bowl with a diameter 2 inches smaller than the diameter of a 1-inch thick round layer cake. Stir ice cream in mixing bowl just enough to soften. Cover; freeze till firm. Centre ice cream on cake; continue as directed.

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