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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baked Alaska



Its other names are omelette á la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette, omelette surprise, glace au four - a baked alaska is basically ice cream on top of a cake (usually a sponge cake), then encased in a hot pastry or meringue which has been quick baked (or maybe torched) before serving.

In this case, the cake used was a leftover chocolate cake, which has been cut into a small circle. Then a (huge) dollop of vanilla ice cream is placed to sit in the middle, leaving some space for the meringue to wrap it all over. Just before serving, put straight in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 230C (pre-heated ofcourse), or until the meringue had a nice tinge of golden color.

Apparently the name of this lovely dessert came from a restaurant in New York in 1876 after the acquisition of Alaska, but was discovered by an American physicist Thompson Rumford as he investigated the heat resistance of a stiffly beaten egg white.

A basic meringue recipe calls for at least 2 tablespoons of caster sugar for every egg white. A pinch of cream of tartar won't hurt - it would help stabilize the meringue. Make sure that the bowl and mixer are free of any fat or oil, otherwise the egg whites won't form the peaks, as the fat inhibits the creation of the foams. It is best to use egg whites in room temperature for a 'bigger' volume.

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