It is COLD outside. Granted, I do come from the South (where cold weather is somewhat of a foreign concept), though I take pride in my acclimation to Northeastern winters. Yet it is currently 10° F outside…and I am not built for this kind of chill. Because I often need a touch of humor in moments like these, I thought now would be the perfect time to feature my Baked Alaska. I made two different varieties of this classic (during a much warmer December) and both were equally awesome.
I was surprised when I found out that Baked Alaska’s origin is French – they named it omelette norvégienne, or “Norwegian omelette” (a reference to Norway’s frigid climate). The name “Baked Alaska” was first coined in 1876 by chef Charles Ranhofer at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York, NY. The name was meant to honor America’s recent acquisition of the territory from Russia just under a decade before (similar to the French model, the name is meant to reflect Alaska’s chilly clime). It feels a bit like Alaska in Boston…
I mentioned that I had made two varieties of this cake – the first used Strawberry Sorbet and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (pictured below), while the second had Peach Gelato and Butter Pecan Ice Cream (pictured above). You can use whatever flavors you want, which is why I love this cake – the possibilities are endless! Rocky Road and Chocolate Chip, Pumpkin and Caramel…have mercy. The trick is patience, and taking the time to refreeze the cake after each assembly. The other trick is, of course, to be cautious when setting this thing on fire. It’s an optional step, but the effect is stunning – click HERE to see the secret to this showstopping dessert!
This cake, though frozen, is quite beautiful – it has a surprisingly light taste (depending on the ice cream you choose) the overall result is almost refreshing – chilly yet elegant, a beautiful illustration of winter itself. What better pairing than Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in F minor, RV 297 “Winter”! A set of four violin concertos, Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) are perhaps Vivaldi’s most famous works. They are based on a series of sonnets, each ascribing the qualities of a respective season. Below is an excerpt from the sonnet for Winter.
Trembling with cold amidst the freezing snow, while a frightful wind harshly blows, running and stamping one’s feet every minute, and feeling one’s teeth chatter from the extreme cold.
The performance of “Winter” is programmed as the final piece, giving the program an exciting and stunning finish. This dessert is certain to do the same at any meal – the below recording is with the master himself, Itzhak Perlman – enjoy 🙂