This is one of those recipes that feels fancy, but only takes about 5 minutes to make. You'll want to have everything at the ready before you start.
See Notes after the recipe for some guidance and safety tips for flambe-ing (with an alternative), and other details.
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Generous pinch of salt
2 bananas (see notes)
3 Tablespoons light rum
1-2 teaspoons banana liqueur (optional, see notes)
Vanilla ice cream
1. Peel the bananas and cut them in half lengthwise, then in half horizontally, so that each banana is now in 4 pieces.
2. Melt the butter in a wide skillet over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and salt to combine well.
3. Lay the banana pieces in the pan over the butter/sugar mixture, cut side down. They should sizzle a little as they hit the pan. Let them cook, undisturbed, for about a minute, until they've caramelized on the first side. Carefully turn them over in the pan to caramelize the second side, for about a minute longer.
4. Transfer the banana pieces to two plates. Remove the pan from heat and quickly pour in the rum and liqueur. Use a long-handled lighter or match to carefully light the alcohol on fire in the pan. (PLEASE read the notes at the bottom for tips on doing this safely!) Carefully swirl the sauce around the pan gently until the flames subside (about 1 minute).
5. Quickly top each plate of bananas with a scoop of ice cream, then pour half the sauce over each plate. Serve immediately.
This is a classic New Orleans recipe, complete with flambe! So you'll either feel really fancy or really nervous (or both) when you make it.
PLEASE tie long hair back and don't wear any flouncy sleeves when you make this. And use a long-handled lighter or long matches if at all possible.
If you're new to flambe, here's the situation: alcohol vapors are flammable, and the heat causes them to rise along with the steam. So hold the match or lighter above the surface of the sauce, and when the flame connects with the vapors, the vapors will ignite - all at once. You'll suddenly be standing there with an entire pan full of flames. The flames subside in about a minute or less, but still.
Reading the above paragraph either thrilled or terrified you. If it's the latter, you can avoid the flaming-pan situation entirely by simply deglazing the pan with the two liquors, like this:
In Step 4, after you've removed the bananas from the pan, turn the heat to medium low and pour in the liquors, along with a splash (about 1.5 teaspoons) of water. Use a wooden spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan while the liquor bubbles, for about 30 seconds to a minute, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the raw alcohol smell has subsided. As soon as it's ready, pour it over each serving.
It seems silly to call for 1-2 teaspoons of banana liqueur, as if it's a perfectly normal thing for you to have on hand, or perfectly reasonable to expect you to run out and buy. As if there are lots of cocktails you could make with your leftover banana liqueur. We both know that is not the case, and yet that's exactly what I've done. If this seems as silly to you as it does to me, you have my blessing to skip it. Just use an extra 1-2 teaspoons of rum, and you'll be perfectly happy. I included it because this is a recipe for Classic Bananas Foster and as far as I can tell, that's a classic ingredient in the dish. (And FYI, I was able to find the tiny little airplane-sized bottle of banana liqueur in the picture at my local liquor store. So not quite so silly after all.)
Choose bananas that are not too ripe for this dish. They'll hold together better.
This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, inspired by the foods in the Lemony Snicket books and Netflix series. (Don't worry - this dessert is delicious. It's the story that's unfortunate.)