New Years is just around the corner, and I’m planning on having a small get-together with some friends and family. Of course, dessert is my favorite part of the meal and is usually the “show-stopper” of my dinners. I’ve made a lot of cakes, cookies and bars lately, and want to serve something a little more…exciting. Something that would impress and entertain my guests.
While explaining my dilemma to my coworkers, the topic of Cherries Jubilee came up. I had never personally seen this dessert made, or even had the chance to try it, but it intrigued me. After doing some background research, I found that it is a dessert sauce made from cherries and liquer, and flambéed (adding alcohol to a hot pan to create a burst of flames) for a fancy presentation. Story has it that chef Auguste Escoffier prepared this dish back in the late 1800’s for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration.
Setting out on my Cherries Jubilee quest, I decided to ask one of Land O’Lakes own corporate chefs, Michael, for some guidance. I wasn’t about to take on this task by myself; to tell the truth, I was a little intimidated by the “flaming” aspect to the recipe. All I could picture when I thought about making it was setting my hair on fire! Luckily, Chef Michael was more than willing to help me out, even offering to show me how to make it. Before he prepared the recipe, he sat down with me so I could ask him a few questions. As a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and with extensive restaurant experience, he is definitely more than qualified to give me some advice. He started by telling me stories about how he learned how to flambé in culinary school, and one point he stressed to me was to practice. He suggested the following to me: “Before you serve this dish at a party, it is crucial to practice making the dish. You’re not going to get it perfect on the first attempt, but that is why you have to try it out a few times.” He also suggested using a pan with shorter sides, such as a Suzette pan (a pan that is usually used for making crepes), so it is easier to flame the mixture.
A few notes before we start:
· If you are using an electric stove or preparing it table side in a chafing dish, you can light the brandy with a long match. The flame won’t be quite as large, but it will still work!
· If you don’t want to use alcohol in the dish, cherry juice can be substituted for the cherry liqueur, and apple juice can be substituted for the brandy. However, if you decide to substitute for the alcohol, your dish won’t flame. It will still taste great, though!
To begin, I prepared the “mise en place” for Chef Michael- this is a French phrase that basically means “everything in its place”. Setting out your ingredients before making a recipe really helps streamline the process and the recipe comes together much faster.
First, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Again, if you wanted to use a pan with shorter sides, such as a crepe pan, it would make flambéing a little easier. Chef Michael used a regular 10” skillet, and this worked just fine, too.
After the butter is melted, add in the sugar.
Continue cooking the butter and sugar mixture just until it starts to caramelize. You will be able to tell that it is ready once the sugar starts to brown a bit.
Add the cherry juice and cinnamon stick pieces.
Continue cooking until this mixture is reduced by about half.
Next, add in the cherries, vanilla and lemon zest.
Bring this mixture to a boil…
…and then stir in the cherry liqueur.
Since Chef Michael has done this many times, he is good at guessing the amounts of ingredients without having to use a measuring spoon. I, however, would probably need to use one.
Now for the “big bang,” if you will. Add the brandy to the pan…
…and keep shaking the pan back and forth, angling it slightly towards the burner. You can see the spark starting!
And there we have it, flames!
The sauce is now ready to be served. Traditionally, it is served over ice cream. Let me tell you though, I could probably just eat the sauce straight, it is that good.
Thanks, Michael, for teaching me how to prepare Cherries Jubilee…I’m not so scared of the flames anymore!
How pretty is that? The deep red of the cherries looks amazing against the white of the vanilla ice cream, and the flavor is even more amazing than how it looks!
Why don’t you give Cherries Jubilee a try the next time you are entertaining? It’s sure to impress your guests and is a unique dessert choice. Come back and let me know how it turns out for you!
Stop back in a few days when Liz will share a delicious breakfast recipe that doesn’t take all morning to prepare.
Mallory is a consultant for the Test Kitchens at Land O’Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.