In the early 1950s New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Owen Brennan, owner of Brennan's Restaurant, challenged his chef Paul Blange, to include bananas in a new dessert as his way of promoting the imported fruit.
And so was born the spectacle of Bananas Foster, a decadent dessert named for Owen's friend, Richard Foster, a local civic and business leader. The bananas are sautéed in butter, sugar and cinnamon and then bathed in rum, which is set aflame in a fiery burst. The fire burns off the alcohol in the rum, leaving just a smoky taste and rum flavour. This delicious concoction, when bought in a New Orleans restaurant, is usually created table side to impress and then served over vanilla ice cream.
Today, Bananas Foster is served at not just Brennan's but also other fine New Orleans restaurants. Each year, Brennan's flames 35,000 pounds of bananas for the famous dessert, which is also so simple to make at home.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 bananas, cut in half, lengthwise, then halved
Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a flambé pan or a skillet. Place the pan over a low heat 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. Then tip the pan slightly and 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 voila! Serve immediately.
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