Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster is the famous dessert created in the 1950’s at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans. It’s both simple, and delicious. This is not the authentic recipe from Brennan’s, but it is the way I like to prepare it! I think it’s best served with ice cream - either vanilla bean or passion fruit…or rum raison, or coconut, or yoghurt – you decide! I use Cointreau instead of banana liqueur because I always have Cointreau in my cupboard! Since there is liquid in the pan, when you flambé it, the flames should be blue (rather than a dramatic “dry” flambé). I use “cassonade” sugar in France and light brown sugar in the US. The final result should be: cooked bananas that are not overcooked (the biggest mistake usually made), delicious sauce with no sugar crystals, and cold but creamy ice cream. I cut the bananas into fourths because I find it easier to handle them this way, but by all means leave them halved lengthwise for the authentic way to serve them.

Ingredients for 4 people

1 cup brown sugar (200g)
½ tsp cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg (or ground), quantity desired
Vanilla bean grains (optional)
Ground Cardamom seeds, quantity desired (optional)
¼ cup Cointreau, 40% alcohol (55g), or banana liqueur
Juice from ½ lemon (about 40g)
2 pats of butter (30g)
¼ cup dark rum (55g), weighed into a glass (never ignite from the bottle!)
4 generous scoops of ice cream
4 medium bananas, firm but ripe

Equipment required :
A large sauté pan (about 11 inches or 28 cm) with lid, preferably stainless steel
A lighter, or matches, or use the flame of the stove top with cautionPrepare bananas just before serving: Peel, remove ends, cut in half through its middle, and then cut each half lengthwise. (It is traditionally served cut only in half lengthwise, so do this if you prefer.)
Cook the “caramel” : Heat pan over medium-high heat, and once hot, add brown sugar (sprinkled out on the full surface). After a minute or two (you should see that the sugar is still solid in most spots but just melted in some spots), add the Cointreau, vanilla and spices. Stir and continue heating until sugar is fully melted, then add lemon and then butter. Stir well to incorporate. The sugar will be lightly caramelized, but be careful not to let it burn.
Cook the bananas in the caramel: Carefully add bananas to pan*, round side down first. Don’t touch the bananas for about 45 seconds, or until lightly browned. Then, gently turn over for about 30 seconds. I use a metal spatula and a spoon to turn. Make sure bananas don’t stick to bottom of pan.
* ATTENTION: risk of burn if you touch the hot sugar!

Flambé! Pour the rum evenly in the pan. Ignite with a match, or the flame of the stovetop. Hold pan away from you! You should see blue flames in the pan**. After flames die down, swirl pan. The sauce should be a liquid consistency.
** The flame should be contained in the pan, but if it should get out of control, simply cover pan immediately with a lid to suppress the fire. Never pour the rum from the bottle and then ignite. Also, never look in your pan after the flames die down because it can re-flame. Your eyebrows will thank you! (It can happen.)
Plate and Serve: Place four banana slices in each bowl. Divide the sauce into all bowls. Top each bowl with softened ice cream. Add some chopped nuts, and fresh mint. Enjoy!

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