Baked Alaska

LORELAI: Oh! Meringue.
SOOKIE: Yeah, I thought I’d do a variation on a baked Alaska for dessert tonight.

Baked Alaska is a classic American dessert consisting of ice cream in a dish or baking tray which is lined with cake, then the whole thing covered in meringue and quickly browned in the oven. The ice cream won’t melt as the meringue protects it, and the oven is very hot so that cooking time is brief.

According to legend President Thomas Jefferson, earlier mentioned, was the first person to serve Baked Alaska, in 1802. He served a dessert which was warm ice cream in a pastry shell, so not really the same, but shows that the idea of baking ice cream had been around a fair while – and a presidential connection is always a cool thing to have.

The famous Delmenico’s Restaurant in New York City claimed that their chef Charles Ranhofer named the dessert to mark America’s purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. The actual dish was probably created some time after the purchase, and Ranhofer called his dessert “Alaska, Florida” to indicate the extremes of heat and cold in the dessert. He published the recipe in 1893.

The first known published recipe for something resembling Baked Alaska is in Mary J.B. Lincoln’s Frozen Dainties in 1888. It seems to be much the same as the modern dish and she calls the dessert Ice-cream en Deguiser (“ice cream dressed up”). Lincoln was the first principal of the Boston Cooking School, so the dish has a distinguished pedigree.

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