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A dish of baked ice cream on a sponge cake, covered with meringue and browned for a short time in the oven, without the ice cream melting.
It started as a dish of ice cream in a hot pastry crust and was certainly served by the American president Thomas Jefferson at the White House in 1802; but wouldn't have been known by this name.
The meringue version is claimed by many people, but the most likely is Benjamin Thompson, an American physicist, who served it at dinner parties during 1804. he called it 'Omelette Surprise' or sometimes 'Omelette á la Norvégienne', but over time it's also been known as 'Norwegian Omelette' and 'Glace au four'.
The name 'Baked Alaska', originated at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City in 1876, and was named in the honour of the newly acquired territory of Alaska in 1866.
It was popularised in Europe by Jean Giroix, when he was chef at Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo in the late 1800's. For a recipe, see our Recipe Section