From the French Quarter: Bananas Foster
One balmy spring day I attended a reception on the front terrace of a fabled resort. White tents sheltered guests from an exceptionally bright sun, drinks flowed generously, and appetizers were tasty and varied. A disc jockey played Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald tunes. But the undisputed star of the show was Bananas Foster.
The classic dessert was born the same year I was (look it up!). Bananas Foster sounds like a moniker for a flashy gangster from a 1930s movie. It is flashy, and it usually includes elements of showmanship. Think of it as a very decadent take on the more common Banana Split.
Bananas Foster is a lot more fun.
This rather posh dessert was created at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans by Chef Paul Blange, and named for a patron, Richard Foster, a civic and business leader and friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan.
Here's what you need to make it:
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 ounces banana liqueur
- 4 bananas
- 2 ounces dark rum
- vanilla ice cream
Prepare bananas by peeling and then cutting in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise so you have four equal quarters. Set aside. (It's helpful to make this dish with a partner.)
In a skillet over low heat, combine butter, sugar and cinnamon until butter dissolves, stirring constantly to prevent mixture from burning.
Add banana liqueur and bananas, cooking until bananas soften and begin to turn golden brown. Add rum, turning skillet slightly so rum ignites. After flames subside, remove four pieces of banana for each serving. Place in dish and add ice cream. Serves 2-4.
How could I not love a dessert that shares a birth year with me? You could say we share an ethnic heritage as well: Brennan's was founded by an Irishman in the French quarter.
According to this link, Brennans, which re-opened in 2010 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, uses 35,000 pounds of bananas each year to make this legendary and very rich dessert.