Baked Alaska

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Baked Alaska is a trick dessert that consists of frozen ice cream on a sponge cake base, encased by hot meringue. See meringue and sponge cake. The insulating properties of the air in the sponge cake and the meringue make it possible to deliver hot and cold temperatures in the same dish.

The origins of Baked Alaska are obscure. Baron Brisse (Léon Brisse), in his daily food column for the French newspaper La Liberté in 1866, told readers of a visit by the Chinese emperor to Paris, during which his chefs demonstrated for their French counterparts a dessert known in China “since time immemorial.” It consisted of ginger-accented vanilla ice cream baked in a pastry crust. The ice cream and meringue dessert known as omelette norvégienne, or Norwegian omelet, entered the French culinary repertoire in the 1890s.