Bananas foster is a dessert that was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was named for Richard Foster, a friend of the owner. It is a dish where bananas are cooked in a caramel sauce made with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and rum, then served over vanilla ice cream. The dish is a hit because of its dramatic presentation. It was prepared tableside in the restaurant’s dining room, cooked over a portable burner. When the rum was added to the hot pan, the alcohol would immediately catch on fire and shoot up in a blaze of color. The flame would only last for a minute, while the alcohol burned off, then the bananas would be served.
The dessert became popular for the presentation, but it has stayed popular because bananas, butter, caramel and rum are a great combination. Bananas foster is a dessert that is very easy to make at home and it can still be just as dramatic to make if you have your family or friends gather around when you get to the rum part of the sauce. The classic recipe uses banana liqueur for extra banana flavor, but I prefer to add just a little vanilla extract to my version of bananas foster instead.
I make my bananas foster in a skillet, using a smaller one for this version and a larger one if I’m going to feed a crowd (the recipe can be doubled). First, I prepare the caramel, then toss in my sliced bananas. Slicing the bananas lengthwise gives the dish a classic look, but you can slice them into smaller rounds if you prefer. I cook them on both sides for a few minutes, then add in my rum. Be very careful when you do this. If your pan is very hot, the rum might catch fire on its own. If it doesn’t, just use a match or a lighter to give it a spark and you’ll have that brilliant alcohol flame in no time. The sauce cooks until the fire goes out, then it is ready to serve over vanilla ice cream.
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, pref. dark
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium bananas
1/4 cup rum, light or dark
Melt butter in an 8 or 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and sugar, and stir until sugar dissolves.
Slice bananas in half, then slice lengthwise and add to skillet. Turn heat up to high. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Pouring carefully, add the rum. The alcohol may ignite on its own, but if it does not then use a long match or lighter to ignite it. Cook until flame dies out.
Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.