baked Alaska

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A baked Alaska (left), and a bombe Alaska (right), a variety of baked Alaska which has been doused in alcohol and flambéed


Said to have been coined by Charles Ranhofer (1836–1899), the French-American chef de cuisine of Delmonico’s, a restaurant in New York City, New York, United States, to mark the latter’s purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire on 30 March 1867. However, there is no contemporary report of this fact, and in his book The Epicurean (1894) Ranhofer referred to the dish, versions of which pre-dated the Alaska Purchase, as an “Alaska, Florida”,[1] apparently because of the contrast between its cold and hot elements. The dish appears to have been first called an Alaska or baked Alaska some time after the Alaska Purchase.



baked Alaska (countable and uncountable, plural baked Alaskas)

  1. A dessert consisting of ice cream encased in cake and meringue and briefly baked. [from 19th c.]
    • 1879 December 5, George Augustus [Henry] Sala, “Fashion and Food in New York”, in America Revisited: From the Bay of New York to the Gulf of Mexico, and from Lake Michigan to the Pacific. [...] Illustrated with Nearly 400 Engravings. In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Vizetelly & Co., 42, Catherine Street, Strand, published 1882, OCLC 715045365; 3nd edition, London: Vizetelly & Co., 42, Catherine Street, Strand, 1883, OCLC 2606268, page 90:
      I dined at Delmonico's hard by the Fifth-avenue Hotel, a few nights ago; and among the dainties which that consummate caterer favoured us with, was an entremet called an "Alaska." The "Alaska" is a baked ice. A beau mentir qui vient de loin; but this is no traveller's tale. 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; so that its surface is covered with a light brown crust. So you go on discussing the warm cream soufflé till you come, with somewhat painful suddenness, on the row of ice.
    • 1896, Fannie Merritt Farmer, “Ices, Ice Creams, and Other Frozen Desserts”, in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, OCLC 3531608, pages 375–376:
      Baked Alaska. [] Make meringue of eggs and sugar as in Meringue I., cover a board with white paper, lay on sponge cake, turn ice cream on cake (which should extend one-half inch beyond cream), cover with meringue, and spread smoothly. Place on oven grate and brown quickly in hot oven. The board, paper, cake, and méringue are poor conductors of heat, and prevent the cream from melting. Slip from paper on ice cream platter.
    • 1957, Ice Cream Review, volume 40, Minneapolis, Minn.: Miller Publishing Company, OCLC 1367935, page 33:
      Looking very regal indeed is this view of Baked Alaska being temptingly dished up for serving during the holidays. The dessert was developed from recipes used to serve rulers of the Principality of Monaco.
    • 1997, Sarah Eppenbach, Baked Alaska: Recipes for Sweet Comforts from the North Country, Anchorage, Ak.: Alaska Northwest Books, →ISBN:
      What could be more whimsical than Baked Alaska, the flamboyant assemblage of hot meringue and cold ice cream?
    • 1997, Toni Morrison, Paradise, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Vintage International, Vintage Books, March 2014, →ISBN, page 73:
      It was the I-give woman serving up her breasts like two baked Alaskas on a platter that took all the kick out of looking into the boy's eyes. Gigi watched him battle his stare and lose every time. He said his name was K.D. and tried hard to enjoy her face as much as her cleavage while he talked.
    • 2006 July, “Ice Cream: Some Great Stops, from Parlors to Gelaterias”, in Rebecca Burns, editor, Atlanta, volume 46, number 3, Atlanta, Ga.: Atlanta Magazine, ISSN 0004-6701, OCLC 60626245, page 80:
      Preparing the dessert, Dunlap pours a shallow pool of crème anglaise into a dish and adds an Alaska. Next he pours half Bacardi 151 rum ("this one's not for drinking," he warns) and half root beer schnapps into a sauceboat. It's show time! [] We dip the spoon into the Bacardi/schnapps mixture, and heat the spoon's base with a mini torch. When the spoon goes back into the sauceboat, its contents ignite immediately. Yikes! Next, with our left hand, we pick up a long knife and place the tip firmly into the meringue-covered Alaska. Then, with our right, we pick up the flaming rum- and schnapps-filled sauceboat and pour it down the side of the knife. We gape as flaming liquid hits the dessert and encases it in flames. Oooh! Ahhh!
    • 2011, Ann Treistman, “Baked Alaska”, in Who Put the Devil in Deviled Eggs?: The Fascinating Stories Behind America's Favorite Foods, New York, N.Y.: Skyhorse Publishing, →ISBN, page 35:
      The baked Alaska, also known as the Norwegian omelet, is a confection that lives up to its name. (Pre-global warming, that is.) You take a slab of frozen ice cream, heap on a cloud of meringue, and cook it. When it's ready, the ice cream is still frozen, and the topping is touched with the golden caramel of melted sugar. Food historians believe this paradoxical treat began pleasing its adoring public sometime around the 19th century. The baked Alaska prototype is believed to be French in origin. Food historians agree that a dish similar to the baked Alaska appeared in France around the mid-1800s.

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  1. ^ Charles Ranhofer (1894), “(3538). ALASKA, FLORIDA (Alaska, Florida).”, in The Epicurean. A Complete Treatise of Analytical and Practical Studies of the Culinary Art including Table and Wine Service, how to Prepare and Cook Dishes, and Index for Marketing, A Great Variety of Bills of Fare for Breakfasts, Luncheons, Dinners, Suppers, Ambigus, Buffets, etc., and a Selection of Interesting Bills of Fare of Delmonico's from 1862 to 1894. Making a Franco-American Culinary Encyclopedia. [...] Illustrated with 800 Plates, 1st edition, New York, N.Y.: Charles Ranhofer, publisher, 682 West End Avenue, OCLC 944768, page 1007.

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