Post by Mo Silidonio Post by Sylvia Knörr
What *is* baked Alaska?
Also known as: omelette á la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette, omelette
surprise, glace au four. Ice cream encased in some sort of hot casing
(pastry crust or meringue).
Baked Alaska consists of hard ice cream on a bed of sponge cake, the whole
thing is then covered with uncooked meringue. This 'cake' is kept in the
freezer until serving time, when it is placed in a very hot oven, just long
enough to brown the meringue. Some brown it under a broiler, while I have
seen others use a small blowtorch (propane) to brown the meringue.
Early versions of this dessert consisted of ice cream encased in a piping
hot pastry crust. A guest of Thomas Jefferson at a White House dinner in
1802 described the dessert as "Ice-cream very good, crust wholly dried,
crumbled into thin flakes."
The later version consisting of ice cream on sponge cake covered with
meringue and browned quickly in a hot oven, is claimed as being created by
many people, and popularized by many others. American physicist Benjamin
Thompson (Count Rumford) claimed to have created it in 1804, after
investigating the heat resistance of beaten egg whites. This was called
omelette surprise or omelette á la norvégienne.
And then there is the story of it being passed on to the French in the mid
19th century when a Chinese delegation was visiting Paris. The Master-cook
of the Chinese mission was staying at the Grand Hotel in 1866, and the
French chef at the hotel (Balzac?) learned how to bake ice cream in a pastry
crust in the oven from him.
The name Baked Alaska originated at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City
in 1876, and was created in honor of the newly acquired territory of Alaska.
An Englishman (George Sala) who visited Delmonico's in the 1880s said: "The
'Alaska' is a baked ice....The nucleus or core of the entremet is an ice
cream. This is surrounded by an envelope of carefully whipped cream, which,
just before the dainty dish is served, is popped into the oven, or is
brought under the scorching influence of a red hot salamander."
It is was supposedly later popularized worldwide by Jean Giroix, chef in
1895 at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.
Thank you Mo, for this detailed information. I know it under "Flambiertes
Eis" (ice cream flambé). Never quite understood what it is good for, because
cool ice cream, but maybe I´m too conventional... :-))