HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Garnishes to set on fire?

I'm having a birthday "roast" for 50 people and serving cake for dessert. I would like to serve something flaming on the plate as a garnish. My only idea so far for something to hold the flamable liquor is a hollowed out strawberry. Any other ideas of things I can set on fire on a plate?

*note - the cake pieces have photos on them, so this will not be a cake topper, rather set next to the cake on the plate.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. 50 flaming plates - what could possibly go wrong?

    1 Reply
    1. You can soak sugar cubes in brandy or extract. They will ignite and melt into caramel around the cake.

      12 Replies
      1. re: JungMann

        In the original Baked Alaska, an eggshell half was pressed down into the merengue to hold the brandied sugar cube.

        1. re: JungMann

          Great idea - i tried it out right away with some cheap 40% alcohol extract and also with 50% alcohol whiskey but neither burned very long...i think i'm going to buy some 151 or similar to see if that works a little better. i love the look of it, though!

          1. re: hjordan

            Then you can also try making my favoritely-named drink. Cuba libres made with 151 = "Cuban Missile Crisis."

            You could also just for show have a plate with salt and spirits. Not sure what the salt does but it looked pretty aflame under my scallops dynamite. Probably not good to get too close to the edible parts of your dessert though.

            1. re: Cinnamon

              the salt adds color to the flame.

            2. re: hjordan

              It will work much better with 151....It won't flame for more than a few minutes..2 maybe? But the effect is pretty impressive to guests and I'm guessing that is what you want. Best of luck..also, I've seen this go bad...have something on hand nearby to put out that fire...I saw bananas foster go bad once....spill onto a cordless phone and melt that badboy. Take care.

              1. re: foodloverlori

                I tried sugar cubes soaked in 151 a few months ago for a dessert and was massively disappointed, not only in the brevity of the display, but also in the...well, *wimpy* size of the flame. I'm wondering what I did wrong, or if I was expecting too much? Is the sugar cube method a safety compromise for us amateurs as opposed to the few spectacular displays of things a-fire that I've chanced to experience in restaurants (not using sugar cubes)? I'll love to try it again with a better effect, but honestly the outcome was pretty disappointing.

                1. re: cayjohan

                  Many restaurants use "fool the eye" techniques and soak things such as small pieces of cotton with denatured alcohol, which burns much longer. In the fifties, "Flaming Shish Kebab" were a BIG thing (I still have some hand made skewers for doing it) and the shishes (skewers) were made to look like swords with an actual cup where the handle joined the skewer and for service alcohol soaked cotton was set aflame in them. Gorgeous show! Flaming drinks used to be popular, especially in "tiki bars" that had special bowls to hold the flaming drink and included a small well in a center island that held flaming cotton while you drank the drink that little island was floating in with loooong straws. Booze just doesn't have as much "fuel" in it as denatured alcohol, or even olive oil. You can also soak cotton in olive oil and set it afire. But if you've ever watched cafe diable made at your table, it really doesn't flame long enough for more than two or three ladle pours, and the flame is blue and difficult to see with the lights on. You can buy denatured alcohol in most drug stores and many liquor stores, but I really don't recommend it for drinking. It's 200 proof and doesn't taste all that good. But it WILL burn...! But candles are safer. Or olive oil. '-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Aha! Smoke and mirrors and cotton balls! I should have known I was missing some theatrical secret! I've always been taken with the spectacle that is café brûlot and wanted to have something of that Wow Factor, but didn't want to try it in the close quarters of my dining room. The sugar cubes just didn't provide it, sadly. I'm going to have to consider another go with something higher test, just for the show and not the flavor...and definitely outdoors, if this dang winter ever ends.

                    LOVE the Flaming Shish Kebab and specialized skewers - are these fabulous culinary relics or still available? Sounds like a blast!

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Other than my own, I can't remember the last time I saw a cupped shishe for sale. Maybe they're still available in Turkey, but I doubt it. I think they went the way of flaming baked Alaska. It's a long time since I was served one of those too. Pity! But bravo to anyone working on a revival!

                    2. re: Caroline1

                      denatured alcohol or grain alcohol? I use denatured for refinishing, and always thought it was toxic

                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                        Yes! Grain alcohol. <sigh> I'm not meant to live in sub-freezing weather with frozen toilets, ISP problems, and practically no email. It's not just bad for computer memory. It's bad for mine too...! Thank you for catching that!

                2. re: hjordan

                  No cotton balls, eggshells are necessary or safe. The secret is to slightly heat the high volume alchohol first and pour it over the food immediately and ignite. As soon as the alcohol is burned off the flame goes out. The more liquor you use, the longer and higher the flame.

              2. Since it's a birthday party and you're going to all of the trouble to have pictures on the cake, is there any particular reason you are turning your back on candles? There are all sorts of very attractive mini-candles available from the birthday variety to tea candles that can be set in hollowed out fruit and even mini-candles of a more artistic variety. They do NOT have to be shoved into the cake. A strawberry will hold one far more easily than it will hold flaming booze. Candles will burn as long as you like, not much danger of flaming liquid spilling on someone or something and causing havoc, and if you put a little thought into it, they can make nice take-home souvenirs of the party after everyone eats the photos! Where I come from, booze is for drinking, candles are for decorating! '-)

                1. I have used the following idea on the entire cake instead of candles but you want to have something flaming on each plate after the cake is cut. Either way this should work well: Put a sugar cube into the cavity of a canned apricot half after removing all the syrup with a paper towel so that it is very dry. Position the fruit onto each plate after cutting the cake or on the entire cake either surrounding it on the edge of a round cake or in rows for a rectangular shape or however your creative eye wishes. You can soak the cubes ahead of time or just before serving use an eye dropper to squeeze several drops of the flavor of your choice liquor onto the sugar cube and perhaps a little into the apricot base for a longer lasting effect. I have not done this for many years but used this method instead of birthday candles for my kids parties years ago. SAFETY ALERT: PLEASE DO A TEST RUN AHEAD OF TIME NEAR THE KITCHEN SINK WITH ONE OR TWO SAMPLES TO JUDGE HOW BIG THE FLAME WILL BE AND STAND BACK TO BE SAFE. I never had any problems with this but please use caution especially if children will be present. Hope this works for you because it is very impressive. Good luck and have a great party.

                  1. Maybe The Pyromaniac's Cookbook: the best in flaming food and drink will give you some ideas.
                    http://www.amazon.com/Pyromaniacs-Coo...

                    This link has what seems like a good overview of the book.
                    http://www.paperbackswap.com/Pyromani...

                    The index

                    How to flame simply and safely.
                    Casual Conflagrations
                    Flaming Feasts in the Great Tradition
                    Incandescent Cocktails and Matchless Coolers
                    Hot to Fire Up the Pantry
                    Light up the Sky!
                    The Fiery Finish
                    Twenty-six Sure-Fire Ways to Fix Coffee
                    A Glossary of Flambe Fuels

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rworange

                      now just stop that

                      (but I will check that out)