As always I like to keep fresh fruits on hand. At almost any given time you will find whatever fruit in season, and within reason; placed in a bowl on my dining room table. Two weeks ago it laid quite abundant with bananas. Coincidentally we were planned on taking a trip back to the east coast to visit with family, but what to do with these bananas? I hate to leave them here and come home to find out they spoiled. Normally when I have a few bananas that are ripe and I am not ready to use it is easy to peel them and seal them in plastic and place in the freezer for a future baking need. But these bananas were no way near ripe yet. That is when I though about Bananas Foster. Bananas that are sliced, sweetly sauted, flambed, and spooned warm over ice-cream. This is the perfect dish for bananas that are still firm. This is because if you were to use bananas that were quite ripe they turn too mushy as they cook.
I learned to make this dish when I was in culinary school. Our last class was to work (both front and back of the house) of the fine dinning restaurant on campus where Bananas Foster was on the menu. When working the front of house and this dessert was ordered you had to wheel a cart over to the table (this cart was stocked with bananas, brown sugar, butter, rum, and a small portable butane burner); and prepare the dessert in front of the guests. The reason for doing this table side was for the show and spectacle of it. Sounds simple, yes? But hold on there just a moment. Let me use this moment to state that I completely disliked doing this and was terrified each time it was ordered. Each and every time an order would come through I could feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, while a small sweat would start to form under my pressed white button up dress shirt.
I personally felt as though we did not get enough time to practice the recipe ourselves before making it. When making this dish as you start to flambe the pan with the rum -if done right- a flame will shoot up out of the pan burning off the alcohol in it. In my opinion, and that of some of my classmates; the ceilings were not very high in the dinning room. I had this gut wrenching panicked feeling that the ceiling would end up with a smoke stain or worse. Not exactly the type of experience you want when dinning at a fine restaurant. Rest assure that as we finished out the course there were no flambe casualties. The ceiling remain smoked stained free, no unintentional fires started, and I became much more confident in making this dish.
That is until I made it at home the other day. It had been quite a while since I flambed anything, and some of those unconfident feeling snuck back into my psyche. I asked my husband to stand by in case I needed help to put a fire out, and also to take pictures of it all. I need the evidence of it not only to show you here, but for my own acknowledgement of future flambe attempts. The ending result was triumphant. There was no fire, although the flame did get larger than I had remembered. The bananas were sweet and kept their shape. The lightly spiced brown sugar and butter used to create the sauce paired perfectly with the vanilla ice-cream. We enjoyed some Bananas Foster, and when finish I packed some things for our trip to New Jersey. I will admit, my confidence was back in place and I hoped our future trip would be as exciting as making this dish.
Bananas Foster (serves 2 - 4)
*Note: if you are concerned about the flame from the rum you can always add less rum, but that will compromise your the amount of sauce you create with the bananas. You can also try not to ignite the pan, but were is the fun in that?!?
2 firm bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 tbsp of butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla ice-cream of choice
Matches, in case you are not using a gas stovetop
First, have I like to have the ice-cream scooped into the bowls and placed in the freezer until ready to pour the sauce over. It is best to keep the ice-cream cold, or the warm sauce and bananas will end up in a creamy puddle!
Next; in a bowl mix together your brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamon - place it aside. Aslo place your vanilla in the same container you have you rum and set it aside as well. Place a large saute or frying pan over medium heat and once heated though add your butter and melt it.
Then, when butter is melted add your bananas. stir them to coat them in the butter. Once coated sprinkle you brown sugar over the top of it all. Keep stirring until the sugar is quite melted and bubbling. Carefully lift the pan away from the heat and pour in the rum and vanilla.
Finally, if using a gas stove raise your burner to high heat and carefully return the pan to the burner while gently tilting the pans lip toward the flame. The rum should ignite quickly. If using an electric burner raise the heat to high and place your pan gently over it. Carefully light your match and place it’s flame toward the pan to ignite the rum. After igniting the rum in either way the flambe will be high and your pan will sizzle away. The rum’s flame will subside once the alcohol is cooked off. When that happens you can remove the pan from the heat and quickly spoon the bananas and sauce over your chilled ice-cream. Serve it promptly and enjoy!