PHOTO BY FREDRIK BRODÉN
While conflicting origin stories shroud the birth of the Baked Alaska, many attribute the dessert to Delmonico’s, a New York restaurant that has served the decadent dome since 1867. (They still make it the same way, with walnut cake, apricot jam, and banana gelato.)
At Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage, the throwback dessert benefits from a tangy twist. We asked pastry chef and co-owner Albert Gonzalez what makes the Baked Alaska at Willie’s so craveably delicious.
“I like to do glorified homemade desserts — the bread puddings, the cakes, and the Baked Alaskas are [dishes] that people relate to. They create a bit of nostalgia for a certain generation,” Gonzalez says.
“Our Baked Alaska is composed with a pepper-vanilla chiffon cake at the base and Amarena cherry gelato in the center, which forms a dome. Then it’s covered in Italian meringue. We pipe it to create those meringue spikes, and then we toast it. It comes with a verjus sauce, which is a fruit wine.
“We’re using a housemade gelato with Amarena cherry, which is very pricey. It’s the Rolls-Royce of black cherries. The cherry and the black pepper work very well together, and the acidity of the verjus sauce complements it well.
“It’s a great dessert that people love.”