A hearty thanks goes out to Mr. Benjamin Thompson, American physicist, for discovering how to make meringue back in the early 1800s! For meringue is a key component of Baked Alaska, the spotlighted dish being celebrated on National Baked Alaska Day.
History of National Baked Alaska Day
Baked Alaska is made by placing slices of sponge cake in the bottom of a pie pan, filling it with vanilla ice cream and then covering completely with a whipped meringue mixture. The whole thing is then baked in the oven at a very high temperature for a short period of time to allow the meringue to solidify slightly and brown. The meringue protects the ice cream from melting, thus giving this dessert its distinctive cold/hot sensation and creamy/crunchy texture that is loved by so many.
One story goes that this sweet treat was named by the chef at the famous New York Delmonico’s Restaurant in 1867, to celebrate America’s acquisition of its new territory. However, another story tells the tale that this dessert was named by chef Antoine Alciatore of Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Either way, the reason was the same: to celebrate the territory of Alaska, which eventually became the 49th out of the USA’s 50 states, along with Hawaii, in 1959.
Its lesser-known name, Norwegian Omelette, also gives tribute to this dessert’s characteristic appearance of a cold, snow-covered mountain. In other places, it has also been known as Omelette Surprise or Siberian Omelette. But most people agree that this frozen, mountainous treat seems just right when called by its name paying homage to the northernmost US state.
How to Celebrate National Baked Alaska Day
Getting involved in celebrating National Baked Alaska Day is a delight for anyone who wants to be involved! Try out these fun ideas for celebrating the day:
Enjoy Baked Alaska
Although not necessarily served at every restaurant, some particularly fancy ones might carry this dessert on the menu on a regular basis. So head on out for a night on the town and finish it off by enjoying a finale of Baked Alaska to share.
Make Baked Alaska
Impress friends and family members with culinary skills by making a treat that is baked–but still frozen in the middle! Although it is important to get work quickly and get the details right, this dish isn’t actually as hard as many people might think.
Baked Alaska only really takes 5 ingredients, though it does require some advanced preparation to allow time for freezing. Slightly softened ice cream is pressed into a bowl and covered with a layer of pound cake. Once frozen, the bowl is inverted, with the cake on the bottom. The ice cream is then covered with a thick layer of meringue (made from egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar) and baked in a very hot oven (500 F) for just 3-5 minutes.
Magically, even though the inside is filled with ice cream, the hot oven does not cause it to melt. The meringue is delightfully golden brown and the ice cream remains deliciously frozen in the middle. Such a treat!
Take a Trip to Alaska
One exciting way to enjoy Baked Alaska day is to take a trip to the state it was named after. Whether taking a cruise through the Pacific Ocean or flying up to the north, this expansive land is filled with wilderness, mountains, waterways, islands, and wildlife. Head north to take in the northern lights, appreciate one of the estimated 100,000 glaciers there, self-drive to view wildlife at Denali National Park, admire North America’s tallest mountains, or take advantage of sport opportunities by engaging in some world class fishing, skiing or snowboarding.
One of the best places to get Baked Alaska in the state is in the Southcentral region, at the Alyeska Resort, where they make more than 500 of the desserts at a time. It’s not on the menu every day, unfortunately, but it can be found there several days each week.