When I think of Baked Alsaska I can’t help it—visions of cruise ships, parading dining room servers and flaming platters immediately dance through my mind. The only version I’d ever tasted until recently was on a cruise many years ago and featured a classic sponge cake, Neopolitan ice cream, and a little bruleed meringue on top. I’m sorry to say it was less than impressive. To be honest, after hearing many people tell me about this dessert then trying that version, I was slightly soured on the dish in general.
So, when not one, but several friends told me I had to try the Baked Alaska at Secco, I waited… longer than I should have. Don’t ask me why it didn’t occur to me that an accomplished pastry chef at an independently owned restaurant and a corporate chef trying to please diners on a budget cruise line might take slightly different approaches on a dish that can be broadly interpreted—I guess old food memories die hard sometimes.
Anywho, a couple of weeks ago my boyfriend and I were looking to end a day of sampling dishes and drinks at different restaurants with a distinctive dessert stop and lo and behold Secco’s Baked Alaska popped into my head. A Sunny Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity to try to cure my Baked Alaskaphobia.
Secco’s Baked Alaska
Secco’s take on the dessert that was believed to be created at New York steakhouse Delmonico’s in 1867 to honor the USA’s acquisition of Alaska is wonderfully flavorful and complex. Your traditional sponge cake is replaced with a layer of crunchy shortbread that adds extra substance and texture to the foundation. Next, a layer of blood oranges and pistachios taste fresh, nutty, earthy, citrusy, sweet, savory and tart—adding a fresh liveliness and lightness to a dish that could easily lean toward heavy or sickly sweet. To finish, the piece de resistance is a creamy vanilla ice cream topped with the classic and satisfying layer of bruleed meringue.
At the recommendation of my server, I paired mine with my recent dessert drink crush Pineau des Charantes, a dessert or aperitif wine made from fermented grape must and Cognac. The sweet, nutty flavor was a perfect complement to the sugar, blood orange and pistachio flavors in the dessert. All in all a perfect end to the day!