Preparing a special dessert right at the table is always an impressive sight, especially if there are flames involved. Bananas Foster, as the story goes, originated at New Orleans' Brennan's Restaurant in the 1950s. The port of New Orleans was an entry point for huge banana crops coming in from South America and the restaurant's chef was challenged to make a special dessert using them. The resulting dish was supposedly named after one of Brennan's regular patrons. Since its introduction, Bananas Foster has been prepared table side in restaurants all over the country, all culminating with the sauce being flambéed.
First and foremost, if you want to try this dessert at home, please be extremely carful with the open flame. Take precautions. Be sure to have a portable kitchen sized fire extinguisher on hand. And, even though you may be preparing it table side, be sure to provide a generous space between the preparation of the dessert, your table linens and your guests. Most restaurants wheel a separate cart table side to make the dish so there's a generous distance between the preparation process and guests.
Portable butane burners are available online in the $25 or less price range. You can also use portable electric induction cooktops. They are a bit more expensive, but they eliminate the added open flame at the table. Whichever on you use, just be sure to take all necessary precautions.
for two servings
2 1/2 tbl Unsalted Butter
6 tbl Light Brown Sugar
2 tbl Banana Liqueur
1/2 tsp Orange Zest
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
2 lg Firm Bananas
2 tbl Dark Rum
2 lg scoops Vanilla Ice Cream, my vanila bean gelato recipe is below
Long Neck Safety Lighter
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and add brown sugar. Stir until the mixture is smooth and fully blended, about 2 minutes. Add banana liqueur and stir to combine. Add cinnamon and orange zest.
Peel bananas and slice them lengthwise and then crosswise, yielding 8 pieces. Place the bananas cut side down into the saucepan. Increase the heat to medium and let the mixture cook for about 3 minutes. Mixture should be bubbling. Carefully pour the rum over the mixture and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute.
Step back from the pan. Using a long neck safety lighter, carefully ignite the rum fumes. Let the flames burn down and then gently shake the pan. Spoon the sauce over the bananas.
Put a scoop of ice cream in each of two serving dishes. Divide the bananas between the two dishes and pour the sauce on top. Serve immediately.
Vanilla Bean Gelato
makes about 1 quart
6 Egg Yolks
3/4 cu Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cu Heavy Cream
2 1/4 cu Whole Milk
1 Vanilla Bean
1/4 tsp Salt
Ice cream maker of your choice
Place egg yolks and sugar in a medium size bowl. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, blend ingredients at medium high speed for about 3 minutes until mixture is pale, creamy and fluffy. Set aside.
Put cream and milk in a large saucepan over medium heat. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and then scrape the vanilla from the inside using a sharp knife. Place vanilla and bean shell into milk mixture. Bring mixture to a pre-boil, just to the point of tiny bubbles forming along the edge of the pan. Using a ladle, temper the egg mixture by pouring about a cup of hot milk mixture into it while stirring. Add a second cup of hot liquid and continue to stir until fully blended. Pour tempered egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture. Reduce heat to a medium low and stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 6-8 minutes, and reaches 170 degrees F. Never let the mixture boil.
Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly onto the top surface of the mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.
Follow the instructions for whichever brand of ice cream maker that you have to freeze the mixture.