Bananas foster is a dessert with a long history. It was invented in the early 1950s at Brennan's in New Orleans, a city that serve as a major hub for the import of bananas at the time. Bananas foster got dropped from many restaurant menus over the years, but the surprisingly simple dish is as delicious as ever and it is sure to become a huge hit in your home once you've given it a try.
Photos by Nicole Weston of Baking Bites
What is bananas foster exactly? The dish consists of bananas that are cooked in a buttery, brown-sugar sauce, then served over a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I start by peeling and preparing my bananas, then setting them aside while I make the sauce. I like to use bananas that are ripe, but firm, so I choose fruit that has developed a freckled brown appearance on their peels. Bananas that are too green will take too long to soften in this dish and simply aren't as tasty in the finished dessert.
Bananas do start to turn brown when they are sliced and exposed to the air, but the sauce comes together so quickly that you don't need to worry about them discoloring. In fact, the bananas will turn a caramel color when they are cooked, so any browning that occurs while you are prepping your ingredients can actually make your finished product look even better!
Just before cooking is finish, bananas foster is traditionally flambeed by pouring some alcohol - I used rum and banana liqueur — into the sauce and lighting it on fire. This makes for an extremely impressive presentation and made this dish very popular for tableside preparation at one time. I always flambe mine, using a long-handled lighter to ignite the alcohol, but if you prefer not to play with fire, the alcohol will cook off on its own. I typically use dark rum in my Bananas Foster because dark rums have a nice molasses flavor that really pairs nicely with both the brown sugar in the sauce and the ripe bananas. You can use a light rum, if that is all you have on hand, and still give it a nice bit of rum flavor.
Bananas foster should be served with vanilla ice cream and it is best when it is freshly made. The sauce will keep if you prepare it in advance and reheat it before serving, but the bananas will lose some of their texture as the sauce sits, so try to make it just before serving whenever possible.
- 6 medium-sized bananas, ripe
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1/4 cup banana liqueur
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
Peel the bananas, then cut them in quarters, making one cut straight down the center and the second cut along the length of the banana. Set aside.
In a 10-inch skillet, combine buter, brown sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly with a spatula, until the butter melts and the sugar caramelizes. When mixture is bubbling rapidly, cook for an additional 2 minutes.
After the brown sugar mixture has cooked, add in sliced bananas. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until bananas are tender.
Combine banana liqueur and dark rum and carefully pour into the banana mixture. If desired, carefully light with a match or lighter. If you don't want to set anything on fire, the alcohol will cook off by itself after approximately 2 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg.
Divide banana mixture into six dessert bowls. Top each dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve immediately.