Baked Alaska: Surprise Inside
What is Baked Alaska? Is it a campaign title to legalize marijuana in Alaska? It should be, but, no, it is not. It is a glorious dessert. It's like angels hugging your mouth. Absolutely bodacious. Like me. Anyways, Baked Alaska is a fairly simple but mysterious dish. It sort of looks like an igloo made out of sponge cake and meringue. Inside this igloo dessert, however, is an awesome ice cream surprise. The dessert's name was coined in 1876 at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York by the famous Charles Ranhofer to celebrate the newly acquired American territory.
FUN FACT: February 1st is National Baked Alaska Day in the United States. A popular alternative to baking the cake is to splash some rum over the Baked Alaska and flambe the dessert as it is being served. This not only allows the meringue to brown but it also makes the chef feel like a badass. It's also very cool to watch and eat. Another variation of the Baked Alaska is the "Frozen Florida", where the frozen meringue shell envelops the hot liquor on the inside.
To make the dessert, you take a metal bowl, put your desired choice of ice cream or filling in the middle, and start layering the rest of the bowl with sponge cake. Freeze until firm. Then, invert the bowl and spread some freshly made meringue over the cake until it's completely covered. Do this fast to prevent the ice cream from melting. Place the cake in the oven for one to two minutes until the meringue starts to brown. The sponge cake should act as an insulator, keeping the ice cream from melting. Serve and enjoy immediately. This is not at all a recipe, I just wanted to break down some of the steps so we all know how it's made. For more recipes, check out the links at the bottom of this page.
Below are a few recipes that I found online. The differences are pretty minimal but you can go ahead and take your pick.
Martha Stewart Recipe: Uses vanilla extract and pistachio/cherry ice cream. I like this one.
Food Network Recipe: Very Neapolitan, uses vanilla, raspberry/passion fruit, and chocolate ice cream with chocolate wafer crumbs.
Epicurious: Simple. Uses strawberry ice cream with hints of fresh lemon juice.
I did a bit of research and found the best places to try Baked Alaska in New York:
The Smith: They used to have it. They do not serve it all the time though. It could be a seasonal dessert. Make sure to check their menu before going. Links: Serious Eats.