Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thank you Gina for the Baked Alaska

Gina made me a Baked Alaska for my belated birthday yesterday (which was also coincidentally the day after my half birthday!) I think that she resisted it for a long time since it is a really hard dessert to make. Subsequently she is requesting Bananas Flambe for her half birthday next month, which isn't so hard except for the fact she wants it to be already flaming when I get off the elevator at her office. Somehow I think carrying a dish of flaming bananas down Canal St. isn't going to go over so well...

What is Baked Alaska? Baked Alaska is ice cream (Gina used strawberry) on top of sponge/pound cake encased in a cocoon of meringue which is placed in the oven long enough for the meringue to brown. The meringue is a good insulator so the ice cream and cake still stay cold.

Unfortunately Gina had to take the Baked Alaska out early since the meringue was dripping and melting (she thinks it has to do with the sugar deflating the meringue) so the picture above does not really resemble the one below, even though it was still very tasty.

On another interesting note, according to the Wikipedia entry, no one really knows where Baked Alaska came from, but one theory is that, while on a visit to Paris, a Chinese master chef introduced the concept (with a pastry casing) to French chef Balzac of the Grand Hotel. Balzac then decided to substitute the recipe with meringue and renamed it omelette surprise.

What is the lesson to be learned here? The Chinese invent everything and other people take credit for it.

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