National Baked Alaska Day is observed annually on February 1st.
- An elaborate dessert that is also known as “Omelette Norvegienne,” Baked Alaska is made with hard ice cream on a base of sponge cake and covered in a shell of toasted meringue.
- This dessert is also called omelette á la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette, omelette surprise, and glace au four (ice cream in oven).
- In 1867 there was debate over the potential purchase of Alaska from Russia. Secretary of State William Seward agreed to a purchase price of $7 million, and Alaska became a United States territory in 1868. Those who were of the opinion the purchase was a giant mistake referred to the purchase as “Seward’s Folly.”
- The dessert was developed by Benjamin Thompson. When experimenting with dessert techniques, he realized that while pastries would conduct the heat and protect a cold core, a layer of meringue would do so to an even greater degree.
- The treat’s true roots date back to the turn of the 18th century, when American-born scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson (aka Count Rumford, a title he gained for his loyalty to the crown during the American Revolution) — whose inventions included a kitchen range and a double boiler — made a discovery about egg whites.
- Suffice it to say that the Count was a busy guy with an interest in food science. The American Heritage Cookbook quotes Rumford as saying: “Omelette surprise was the by-product of investigations in 1804 into the resistance of stiffly beaten egg whites to the induction of heat.”
- In short, Rumford invented what we know as meringue, and then took it a step further by experimenting with temperatures and textures in what became known as Omelette Surprise or later, Baked Alaska.
- What we commonly call Baked Alaska was dubbed as such by the famous Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City in 1876 to celebrate Alaska’s annexation.
- Early versions of this dessert used pie crusts instead of meringue.
- in the 18th – 19th century similar desserts were called Bombes.
- As part of its “Lick Global Warming” campaign, in 2005, Ben & Jerry’s protested the drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by whipping up the world’s largest Baked Alaska. The dessert weighed 1,140 pounds and measure 4 feet tall and 4 feet around, with the help of 3,600 four-ounce scoops of Ben & Jerry’s Fossil Fuel ice cream, 90 pounds of cake and 150 pounds of marshmallow cream.
- A slightly changed dessert called Bombe Alaska came from Noel, Alaska. Some dark rum is splashed over the Baked Alaska, and the whole dessert is flambéed while being served.