Men, bananas and dessert: Light that fire, taste the brown sugar

Friday, 27 August 1999

Presentation — as those of you who are in touch with your feminine side already know — is everything. The most exquisite of orchids pales besides the single long-stemmed rose when the orchid is served up by a surly waitron and the rose by a delicate nymphette with a tender smile and eyes hinting of pleasure ahead. But I digress…

Today, we’re talking about sweetness and light. We’re talking about that most unmanly of food types. We’re talking about dessert.

We XY-chromosome types do not normally venture into dessert territory because finicky little things like dotting cakes with multi-coloured beads and miniature icing sculptures are reserved for the more limp-wristed among us (or rugby players doing product endorsements).

But desserts can be flamboyant. Desserts can be manly. Let’s start with the humble banana.

We’re going to make caramelised flambéed bananas, but as this is a manly undertaking, I suggest hauling the old Cadac skottel (that’s a large gas-fired frying pan, Mrs Jones) into the living room. Mix a cup of sugar with a cup of water and toss into the skottel. Stir with a wooden spoon on very high heat until the sugar begins to thicken and turn brown. Add two tablespoons of unsalted butter, then toss in four bananas sliced in half lengthwise. Gently stir the bananas to coat them, then toss in a half cup of brandy.

Wait, wait, wait!!! Now, there are some things you need to remember at this point:

  • Liquid caramel is hotter than boiling water and can give a nasty burn. (Keep kids away.)
  • The butter has got to be unsalted. (P ’n P Constantia carries one brand, Springbok.)
  • Always pour the brandy into a cup first. Never pour straight from the bottle. (Save the KWV 10-year-old — Klippies will do nicely.)
  • To light the brandy, use a long matchstick. If you don’t have one, a square of paper towel tightly-rolled along its diagonal works well. (Do not use a candle unless you like the taste of wax.)

Prep your audience to stand back, set fire to the brandy and listen for the oohs and aahs.

When the flames die down, toss in a quarter cup each of orange juice and lemon juice, turn off the heat and serve slices in individual bowls with a dash of the caramel syrup from the skottel and a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

And listen for the oohs and aahs again…