Bananas Foster

Photo: Lucy Lean

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Flambé a Dramatic Bananas Foster

Famed New Orleans restaurant Brennan's lays claim to the iconic dessert, a combination of caramelized ripe bananas, brown sugar, rum, butter and cinnamon, set on fire and then poured over vanilla ice cream. In 1951, Chef Paul Blangé supposedly named it after loyal customer Richard Foster. Today, Chef Lazone Randolph, who's been at Brennan's for 47 years, is the resident expert. He's performed the flambé ritual in the restaurant's dining room countless times without any accidents. And while the dramatic flames are this recipe's biggest attraction (this guide to safely setting food on fire covers the basics), there's one important factor many home cooks overlook: the caramelized brown sugar. At Brennan's, Lazone makes sure the sugar has become syrupy and darkened before he adds the rum, because as soon as the flame from the ignited rum goes out, the dish is finished. Once the sugar is ready, he slightly tilts the pan away, pours the liquor in and ignites it. To make a real impression on guests, use a silver chafing dish (and don't forget to dim the lights).

Get the recipe: Brennan's Bananas Foster