February 1st is ‘National Baked Alaska Day’. There is nothing as beautiful as a flaming Baked Alaska as it is served at table. My Sons Father and I were fortunate to have had that experience aboard the Cunard Princess as it made its way up the Coast of California to Vancouver Canada. The night we had it, the lights in the Dining Salon were dimmed and all the waiters marched out, each carrying a Flaming Baked Alaska, one of each which was served at each table.
You could make your own baked Alaska, but unless you have a Culinary Torch and are familiar with the liquer that you would need to flame it with, you are better off having it as dessert at a Fine Restaurant. However, if you really want to make your own, I have a recipe of a ‘Mock Baked Alaska’ which although it is not going to be flaming, it is still quite good and simple to make. Children love as well as adults. The only problem with it is that although it looks beautiful when it comes out of the oven, it loses its beauty when it is cut. However, it does not lose its taste appeal. That is yummy!!!
Traditionally a ‘Baked Alaska’ is a cake that has already been baked and then filled with Ice Cream. A Meringue is put over the Cake and this insulates the Ice Cream and keeps from melting when it is baked in the oven a second time. In Restaurants, the oven step is eliminated and the Meringue is just flamed, thereby ‘cooking’ it.
My version of ‘Baked Alaska‘ is a sponge or Angel Food Cake. I cut a trough out of the Cake thereby creating a space for the Ice Cream. Once the ‘trough’ is filled with Ice Cream, the Cake pieces are put back. You can do this quite easily because a Sponge Cake is quite literally like a sponge and it can be easily compressed, thereby allowing you to replace the Cake pieces after the Ice Cream is inserted.
I usually put the cake back in the freezer at this point and just before serving, preheat your oven to 475 or even 500 degrees. Make your Meringue and cover the cake with it and place it in the hot oven for about 5 minutes or until the Meringue is a golden brown color. Remove it and serve immediately, once the guests have a look at your Masterpiece.
To cut the Cake, use a Bread Knife (serrated) so that you will not compress the cake as it is cut.
You can make your own Angel Food Cake or Sponge Cake cakes-frostings/angel-food-cake/ , /cakes-frostings/sponge-cake/or you can purchase a ready-made Angel Food or Sponge Cake that has been baked in a tube pan. Of course, if you make it yourself it will taste better!
You can find the complete recipe for the finishing touches on the ‘Baked Alaska’ at /cakes-frostings/5562-2/
Musical Desserts! What are they? Desserts that play music? Alas no. These are desserts that were created to honor people or certain Arts in the musical world.
The Musical Desserts that I am familiar with are:
Pavlova – Both New Zealand and Australia lay claim to the creation of Pavlova and it is the National Dessert of both countries. This famous dessert was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova in honor of one of her visits to the above name countries. It consists of a meringue base topped with whipped cream and fruit such as strawberries, passion fruit or kiwi. Pavlova can either be rolled like a jelly roll or free formed in a ring shape.
Opera Cake – a multi-layered sponge type cake put together with calorie-laden, but delicious fillings such as Chocolate Butter Cream, Chocolate Ganache and topped with a Chocolate Glaze.
Peach Melba – a dessert named after the famous Australian Opera singer, Nellie Melba. The dessert was created by Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London, while Melba was doing a performance of Wagner’s. Lohengrin in London. Escoffier was the famous French Chef who set the standard for all French Cooking. Peach Melba consists of Poached Peaches on top of Vanilla Ice Cream and is topped with a Raspberry Sauce. For a recipe for this dessert go to deserts/peach-melba/
Crepes Suzette may be another Musical Dessert. There are several stories associated with the creation of this dessert which consists of Crepes (a very thin pancake) served with a flaming Orange Sauce. One of the stories circulating about Crepes Suzette is that it was named after a famous French Actress whose name was Suzette. Another story goes that it was named after a character in a play. Whatever the story, Crepes Suzette are delicious and fun to watch being made. Even though it is not exactly a ‘Musical Dessert’, there is some theater involved, allowing it to surreptiously fit into this category.
Charlotte Russe, although not created as a Musical Dessert, was nonetheless created for a famous person. There seem to be several different variations on the origin of Charlotte Russe. The first Charlotte was created during the 18th Century and named for the wife of King George III of England. It consisted of an apple compote baked in a round mold lined with toast slices.
A few decades later, the great French chef Careme adopted the name but altered the concept in response to a kitchen crisis. He was preparing a grand banquet for King Louis XVIII and discovered he did not have enough gelatin for the Bavarian Creams he was making. Careme used Lady Fingers to bolster the sides of his dessert. The result became known as Charlotte Russe. It is said that he called it Charlotte Russe, because at that time, anything Russian was very popular.
There are other sources that say the dessert was created for or named after, the Russian Czar, Alexander. At this point, it really matters not why or whom it was created for. Charlotte Russe was a very popular dessert during the early part of this century and is very good.
Desserts, whether they are named after Music, Musicians, or Vocalists or Actresses, or Royalty are delicious and usually enjoyed by most who indulge in them.