Everyone wants cake and ice cream for their birthday, and Alaskans do, too. But when they celebrated 50 years of statehood on Jan. 3, 2009, theirs was topped with a layer of sweet, warm baked meringue. The confection of cake, ice cream and meringue, first known as ¨Alaska Florida,¨ was created in the late 1860s at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City to commemorate Alaska’s status as a U.S. territory. By 1886, a simplified version, known as ¨Alaska Bake,¨ appeared in the Philadelphia Cook Book, and within two years, it appeared on New York menus as “Baked Alaska.”
Today, the classic Baked Alaska is still on the menu at Delmonico’s with a banana candy ice cream and Turkish apricot compote.
Our recipe, created by Chef Kirsten Dixon at Alaska’s Winterlake Lodge, is a simplified version using purchased pound cake as the base. While easy to make, there’s no skimping on the meringue. You’ll have peaks as lofty at Mount McKinley in Alaska’s Denali National Park.
By Patricia Bates, a food writer in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.