A Backgrounder on the Baked Alaska -- and Where to Find a Good Version
The Monarch Room Baked Alaska at The Monarch Room
Considering the alternating 85 and 55 degree days New York's "sprummer" is currently offering, there may be no better dessert to indulge in than the Baked Alaska, a hot and cold layering of sponge cake, ice cream, and meringue that is as comforting as it is cooling. The dessert is thought to have originated in 1868, and much closer to home than the name suggests -- it's credited to Delmonico's in New York, where chef Charles Ranhofer wanted to recognize the newly acquired U.S. territory.
Since then, the dessert has found its place on an array of pastry menus across the city, including modernized market-geared brasserie The Monarch Room (408 West 15th Street, 646-790-7070), where pastry chef Tai Chopping offers an individual serving portion of the classic with the addition of cajeta: a Mexican sauce made of reduced goat's milk, spices, and sugar (its flavor is not unlike a dulce de leche). "Cajeta has a complex and unique flavor that pairs really well with the almond cake and vanilla ice cream," explains Chopping.
Chopping, whose background is rooted in traditional French restaurants, decided to work a Baked Alaska into her menu for its all-encompassing qualities of a post-dinner sweet fix. "It stood out to me as a dessert that really had it all, when done right," she explains. "There really is nothing better than the combination of hot and crispy with ice cream and moist, warm cake -- the Baked Alaska has all of this, in one neat package."