Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How I Became A Pyro AKA My Introduction To Bananas Foster

All it took was a huge pile of ripe bananas in the grocery store, and I was inspired to spend the whole weekend making Bananas Foster. I was first introduced to the dessert in college - one of my college roommates had a younger brother who was attending Johnson and Wales and wanted to be chef.  For us starving college students, that equaled free restaurant-quality food! Patrick was kind enough to cook dinner for one night, and while I don't remember the details about the meal, I do remember dessert. It was the first time I had ever heard of Bananas Foster and after seeing the spectacle of rum being lit on fire and having my first bite of caramelized banana, I was hooked.

Literally, for weeks. My roommates will tell you that I was making it every other night just for the rush of lighting the pan on fire.  And then, I got tired of it and promptly forgot about this wonderful dessert.  It all came rushing back while I was standing in the grocery store, and so I'm excited to share my infatuation with you.

Most recipes call for bananas sliced length-wise, but I threw in an extra banana's worth of slices, because you can never get too much banana - this is right after I threw the bananas into a butter/brown sugar mixture and before the caramelization process begins.

This is after the rum was poured in - you can see some furious boiling action happening but I bet you're asking where the flames are (note: always practice safety for this step, and light the rum with a long fireplace safety match like I did or use one of those button-push safety lighters)
A-ha! You can see the flames from this angle, but the picture does not do justice to how high they can get. Again, people, practice safety and keep your distance from the pan but also, enjoy the show.

Once the flames die down and disappear, your bananas are nice and gooey and ready to be served!

Spoon into waiting bowls

Top with some scoops of vanilla bean ice cream

Top with extra caramel sauce remaining the frying pan, and you've got yourself a wonderful combo of caramelized banana and creamy ice cream. It's not only delicious, but extremely easy to make, requires little ingredients and always impresses guests, which makes it the perfect dessert for a dinner party

This was just the beginning, come back tomorrow to see how I took this dessert up a notch for a special lunch with Andrew's parents!
Bananas Foster (Serves two - three) - Inspired by an Alton Brown recipe
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup (1.75 ounces) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise (use 1 - 1.5 bananas per person eating)
1/4 cup white rum (dark rum apparently works well but white rum was actually used in the original recipe for Bananas Foster, which is a traditional New Orleans dessert)

Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking. Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. Next, VERY CAREFULLY ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Divide bananas between bowls, reserving syrup. Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream and immediately spoon remaining sauce over bananas and serve. Enjoy and scrape your bowl clean!

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