Years ago, when our kids were small, a few close friends and I started a monthly dinner party for “just us” grownups. As hectic as the holiday season always was, we decided to replace gifting each other with a monthly therapy session complete with a 5-course dinner we share in preparing. I’ve taken my turn with the main meal but most often I’m asked to create the appetizer and dessert courses.
Everyone gets, gives, bakes, and buys cookies, cakes, pies, etc. during the holidays so in an attempt to change the standard “coffee and cookie” holiday dessert at our holiday “therapy dinner”, I decided to set out what used to be on the table after dinner when I was a kid.
An Italian background means cheese, fruit, biscotti, and grappa or Vin Santo with espresso or cappa, finito! Some of these liqueurs would be served before dinner as a cocktail and some after the meal.
At the end of the holiday season, I always have leftover liqueur- a little of this and that. I never want to save it for next year because I won’t drink it before then, and I’m usually ready for some new tastes. This gave me the idea to start baking with my booze – big hit with the January therapy dinner!
My brother loves Bananas Foster so I tried to make it for our January meal one year – wow- so simple, such an elegant dessert, and then I made it for him and boy, was he surprised that year on his b-day!
I tried, with great success, substituting liqueurs for syrups and juices in baking as well. For example I made my Peach Clafouti with peach liqueur instead of peach syrup, yum, yum, yummy.
You can always take a scoop of vanilla ice cream and dress it up with a drizzle of Creme de Menthe, or a little Kahlua dusted with cinnamon sugar. Of course if you want the flavor with out the alcohol just warm the liqueur in a small pan on the stove and when really warm but not hot hold a lit match just above the liquid. The liqueur will ignite for a few moments and there will be beautiful blueish flames flickering from the pan. Be careful! The alcohol will burn off and you’ve got a yummy syrup.
I haven’t tried my own version of bananas foster, but I have read and tried many versions that are or sound wonderful, I still make the original recipe created at Brennan’s Rest in New Orleans. Here is their recipe:
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup banana liqueur
- 4 bananas, cut in half
lengthwise, then halved
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.