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National Baked Alaska Day!

Today we celebrate a delicious sponge cake filled ice cream inside, and this slab of browned meringue outer layer, Baked Alaska.  This is observed annually on February 1st.

It is a sponge cake covered with a thick slab of ice cream with meringue on top.  The entire dessert is then placed in an extremely hot oven for a brief time, long enough to firm and caramelize the meringue.

The name “baked Alaska” was supposedly coined at Antoine’s, a restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana, US, by its chef de cuisine Antoine Alciatore in 1867 to honor the acquisition by the United States of Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 10 that year.  However, no contemporary account exists to support this claim, and the name was not used until some years after the Alaska Purchase. Delmonico’s chef Charles Ranhofer called the dish an “Alaska, Florida” in 1894, apparently referring to the contrast between its cold and hot elements.

According to history, the Chinese were the first culture to cook pastry over an ice cream filling, which makes a delicious combination of hot and cold components.  The key to making a perfect Baked Alaska cake is keeping the cake and the ice cream as cold as possible, so be sure not to thaw the cake or soften the ice cream before topping it with meringue, and just brown the topping when it is ready to serve.

Flame on the iceberg is a popular dessert in Hong Kong that is similar to baked Alaska. The dessert is an ice-cream ball in the middle of a sponge cake, with cream on the top. Whisky and syrup are poured over the top and the ball set alight before serving.  Decades ago, the delicacy was served only in high-end hotels, but today it is commonly served in many Western restaurants and even in some cha chaan teng.

So, today, if your adventurous and would like to have a special delicious ice cream cake even it is cold outside, bake some Baked Alaska for dessert to enjoy with hour family.  Share on social media some recipe if you have one using #BakedAlaskaDay.

1978 Harriet Tubman becomes the first African American woman to appear on a U.S. postage stamp

African American woman to appear on a U.S. postage stamp, the first in the Post Office’s Black Heritage Series. Tubman’s appearance on stamps was emblematic of both of the progress made in recognizing African Americans’ contributions to American history and of the ongoing effort to put abolitionists on equal footing with slaveowners in the nation’s historical canon.

Tubman was a singular figure of the abolition movement, a slave who escaped captivity in Maryland and made at least 19 trips back to free more slaves. Tubman is estimated to have helped several hundred slaves find freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad and is said to have “never lost a passenger.” During the Civil War, she freed 700 more when she led Union forces on a raid on Combahee Ferry in South Carolina. In her later life, though she had little money of her own, Tubman worked to house and feed the poor and became an important figure in the fight for women’s suffrage. Despite these extraordinary efforts, which earned her the epithet “the Moses of her people,” Tubman did not receive a pension for her services in the war until 1889 and died with little to her name.

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