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Baked Alaska is one of the most popular high-end desserts in the world, but if you’ve had it before, it’s probably been on a cruise line or in a fancy hotel, and not in your home kitchen. Why is this dish so difficult to make? Read on below to learn exactly what Baked Alaska is and how it’s made, and for an easier modified recipe so you can try making it at home even if you’re a novice chef.
What is Baked Alaska?
Baked Alaska is a dessert made from plated ice cream surrounded by sponge cake or pound cake with a caramelized meringue on top. The dish is very difficult to make, which means it’s rarely served in cheap restaurants and is usually only found in high-end restaurants or hotels. Sometimes, baked Alaska is served as “Bombe Alaska,” where liquor is splashed on top of the dessert, and it is set on fire before being served.
Where did baked Alaska come from?
Baked Alaska was invented at Delmonico’s, a restaurant in New York City. Its creation is credited to Charles Ranhofer, a French chef who worked in the restaurant. The name was coined in 1876 as a way to honor the United States’ purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867.
Why is baked Alaska so hard to make?
Baked Alaska is difficult to make because it requires cooking the meringue on top for just long enough to solidify and caramelize it but not so long that you burn the cake or melt the ice cream inside. In restaurants, this is often done using a kitchen blowtorch or using an extremely hot oven for a very short period of time.
How to make baked Alaska
While baked Alaska might be too difficult for an amateur chef to make at home, this simple recipe lets you make an easy five-ingredient version of the dessert. To start, line a large bowl with plastic wrap and scoop in eight cups of Neapolitan ice cream. Mix up the colors of ice cream together, and press all the ice cream down to remove any air pockets.
Cut a pound cake into one-inch slices and cover the ice cream completely with slices, pressing the cake down gently. Cover the bowl well and freeze it for at least three hours. In a mixer, whisk together six room-temperature egg whites and ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar until the mixture begins to foam, then add ¾ cup sugar and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Remove the cake and ice cream mixture from your freezer and invert it onto a baking sheet. Cover it with the meringue mixture using a spoon or small spatula. Place the baking sheet uncovered in the freezer for at least an hour, preheating your oven to 500°F about 15 minutes before taking the baked Alaska out. Finally, bake the dish for three to five minutes or until the meringue is golden. Enjoy!