How To Make Bananas Foster

11/03/2011 05:42 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Maitre d'Hotêl Instructor Doug Miller of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates how to make bananas foster, a classic American dessert of sliced bananas in a sweet, buttery sauce. Invented in New Orleans, it's a great choice for entertaining because the flambé step is impressive.

To begin, chef Miller adds butter to a heated pan, then dissolves the brown sugar into it. With the pan off the flame for safety, he adds banana liquor and stirs the mixture together until it becomes a smooth sauce. He then adds the ripe banana slices, then tilts the pan off the flame by 45 degrees, keeping the bananas and sauce off the heat while super-heating the section left over the flame. He adds the rum off the fire, then brings the pan back down near the flame to allow it to catch fire, tossing the cinnamon into the flame (it will add sparks). Safety tip: Make sure you don't have a microwave or anything else above your stove that could catch fire! The flames will reach up higher than you may think.

Serve the bananas foster over ice cream for a dessert, or atop waffles for a decadent breakfast.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Maitre D' Instructor Doug Miller from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make bananas foster.

Bananas foster is a great American classic dessert that was invented in New Orleans. I'm using a tabletop burner, but you can do this over your kitchen stove. It is a great dish to prepare for dessert, or also for breakfast in the morning when you can serve it over waffles.

You'll need ice cream (traditionally it's vanilla ice cream, but you can use any type of ice cream that you like), your favorite rum (preferably dark rum), banana liqueur, and also sliced bananas, the riper the better, a little butter and a little brown sugar.

Starting off, on your kitchen stove you would heat a metal pan and add a little bit of butter to the pan, and then brown sugar. You're going to take a fork and spoon pressed together, with the fork on the bottom, to break up that brown sugar and butter. All you're doing is dissolving the sugar in the butter to build the basis of your sauce. With the pan off the flame - this is essential, when you're cooking with alcohol: any time you add alcohol to the pan you want to make sure it's off the flame - I'm going to add my banana liqueur. Then I'm going to put the pan back onto the flame and I"m going to whisk that all together. One of the advantages of alcohol is that it will bond with the sugar and the butter, pulling it all together, creating a nice smooth sauce. At this point you're going to add your bananas. You're not cooking the bananas; you're just breaking up the bananas and coating them with the brown sugar and butter mixture.

Now that you have all the ingredients in the pan, you're ready to do the flambé portion of this dish. You want to create a hot spot on your pan; you want to tilt your pan back toward you at a 45-degree angle, so that while the far end of the pan up top, over the flame, is heating up, you're not burning your sugar and your butter which will have slid down to the side closer to you. When the pan has reached the point where it is about to smoke, you want to add your alcohol off the flame, still keeping it at the 45-degree angle. Because the pan is at that angle, the alcohol will not ignite until I'm ready to ignite it.

Holding the pan's handle with one hand, you want to have your cinnamon shaker in the other hand, and this is great because it's going to add sparkle to the flame. Return the pan to the stove. Lift up, tilting the pan toward its hot spot, and as its contents slide down the alcohol in the sauce will ignite. Toss the cinnamon into the flame, turn off your burner, and as the flame subsides, just mix everything together, coating the bananas with the sauce.

This is the classic art of flambé where you light something on fire. Traditionally it was done tableside, but it's also a great thing to do in the household. Just make sure that you have clearance and that you don't have a microwave or other items that the flame may catch on fire. Once I"m done flambéeing, I scoop the bananas and all this goodness - the brown sugar, the banana liqueur. the rum - over the top of ice cream. Personally my favorite way of serving this is to take waffles, with the ice cream on top of the waffles, bananas foster, and then a lot of maple syrup.

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