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Jun 23, 2005 05:20 PM

Dessert Pyrotechnics -- assistance required

  • o

So in desserts that come aflame to the table, how do they get that long-lasting burn?

We tried heating up cherries and adding splashes of 151 and lighting it, which gave us a pan-full of 1 centimeter blue flame for less than five seconds.

does the alcohol need to be heated to? and what type of brandy or other liquer do you use for different types of desserts?

we'd like to get a sustainable flame for at least a few minutes.

thanks in advance,

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    1. re: JudiAU

      Thank you! That is so funny.

    2. Minutes? That's called, KITCHEN ON FIRE!!

      Not a good thing. Seconds, maybe.

      Whatever you are cooking that you add the alcohol to should already be hot. With bananas Foster (for example) you will have started with the butter...the brown sugar...the banana...the banana liqueur...which will be nice and hot--then you add the rum. Try to distribute the rum around the pan so that it's not just on one side, and swirl the pan gently after igniting so that the flames are even.

      For the most spectacular effect, turn the lights down low, or off.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LT from LF

        Ditto on what Lathor said, plus anything that has enough alcohol in it to stay aflame for a few minutes will be inedible. Yes, I know a lot of alcohol gets burned off, but think about it. How high was your alcohol concentration last time, and it still wasn't enough to set ablaze? You'll need MORE than that next time (albeit at a higher temp) to create fire, and once the concentration goes down a little the flame will go out. But there's still alcohol in your dessert. That alcohol, which won't cause a flame, will stay in your dessert unless you slowly cook it off (as you would with wine in a stew). But you won't be slow cooking your dessert, so you and your guests will taste every bit of it. You might like that, or you might not!

        Lathor's advice is good, but you could always try floating a little Bacardi 151 on top of your dessert as well, just to get the flame going.

      2. If I remember correctly, 151 will give you a nice blue flame. And as mentioned elsewhere, turn down the lights for a dramatic result. One additional parlor trick: have a shaker with cinnamon powder and when you have a good flame going - holding the shaker above the flame - start shaking and a beautiful shower of sparks will appear as the bits of cinnamon ignite as they pass through the flame - cool stuff!

        1 Reply
        1. re: gordon Wing

          Sparks! My bananas foster will never be the same again. Thanks for that tip.

        2. For cherries jubilee I warm up about a cup of brandy with 1/4c sugar, add a pint of cherries and ignite. The flame lasts about 10-15 seconds.

          The longest burn I've achieved is about 40 seconds on our Christmas plum pudding last year. That puppy was soaked with brandy for a month and I warmed up & poured over an additional 1/2 cup of brandy to get the flames going. It created an amazing blue flame that zipped circles around and around the pudding (with the lights turned off). The boozy flavor was strong but held its own against the dense cake. I've been soaking Dec. 05's pudding since since Nov. 04 and I'm sort of frightened by how much alcohol (fuel) it's absorbing! Should be a great show.

          2 Replies
          1. re: petradish
            Caitlin McGrath

            In my mother's family, the flames zipping around the Christmas pudding are called blue devils. My mother's pudding was never soaked in booze, but she's always gotten a good long run of blue devils just by pouring over heated brandy and igniting.

            1. re: petradish

              Yum! Care to share the recipe?