I must begin by telling you that I’ve always had a fear of fire. I can’t pinpoint any specific occurrence that may have caused this fright. I remember my dad taking me out to the metal barrel in the corner of the backyard, encouraging me to light the match that would ignite the trash inside. No matter how many times he showed me how easy it was to strike the match quickly against the black strip on the matchbook, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I think I might have been 15 years old by the time I finally had the courage to finally light a match. Really.
Although I nonchalantly cook on several flaming gas burners at one time, light the gas grill on the deck during grilling season and carry around a portable gas burner to use for cooking demonstrations, no one sees me hold my breath each time I start the fires. Fire still scares me.
So, last year when I was asked to come up with a flaming dessert to make at a dinner that would raise funds for the Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji, I reluctantly agreed. That year I flamed several pans of Bananas Foster at the dinner. Guests watched as I carefully tilted the pan toward the flame on the gas burner, the vapors from the alcohol in the pan bursting into flames. I managed to get through the experience, but my hands were sweating and my stomach was in knots.
Last Saturday night was the 2011 elevated epicurean experience that would once again raise funds for the Science Center. And, once again I was making a flaming dessert. This year it was Cherries Jubilee served with Early Harvest Wild Rice Crepes and Sweet Orange Creme. I was a nervous wreck as I thought about lighting brandy in a small glass beaker (very scientific looking) and quickly pouring the flaming brandy into the pan of hot cherries that would then become a pan of fire.
Chef Michael Holleman, of Indian Harvest, helped me with a pre-dessert rehearsal of the flaming. A fire extinguisher was nearby. I felt a little more comfortable after that first trial run that flamed without a hitch.
Holleman mixed up the crepe batter the night before the event, using Indian Harvest Grade C Wild Rice, young rice that is harvested early with a mild flavor. He and my favorite crepe-maker (my husband) demonstrated their quick turn of the wrist as they turned out one thin crepe after another. I was busy making cherries flame. The beaker method didn’t seem to work very well. I wound up pouring the brandy right into the pan of hot cherries and my friend, John, who was garnishing each plate with reduced cherry syrup and orange creme, lit the pan for me. I’m such a little wimp.
Another flaming dessert event was pulled off without a hitch and I’m breathing much easier. Flaming desserts do add drama to an evening. And, they usually are quite delicious.
Cherries Jubilee is a recipe you may want to try sometime. Serve it with crepes you make yourself or buy some at the grocery store. If you’d like to try the Indian Harvest Young Wild Rice Crepes, click here for the recipe. The recipe makes 34 crepes, but you will find that it is an easy recipe to reduce. Cherries Jubliee are also very decadent spooned over a creamy, good-quality ice cream.
Orange Creme is made with cream cheese and whipping cream. Need I say more?
If you’re fine with fire, you’ll love serving Cherries Jubilee to dinner guests. If you’re like me, just make the cherry mixture and have someone else light it up. You’ll still love serving it to guests.
Now, I’m just trying to come up with some other ways to use this Orange Creme. It’s way too luscious to save only for Cherries Jubilee. Do you have any ideas? Oh, and while you are thinking, how about some ideas for another flaming dessert, just in case I’m at the pan again next year for the Science Center.
Crepes with Cherries Jubilee and Orange Creme
- 1 (15- or 16-ounce) can dark sweet cherries
- 1/2 cup red currant jelly
- 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grated zest of 2 oranges
- Crepes, homemade or purchased
Drain the cherries, reserving the juice. Pour the juice into a small saucepan and simmer until the juice reduces by at least half and becomes the consistency of syrup. Set aside to cool. This can be done a day or two before serving. Refrigerate until needed.
Make the orange creme by beating the cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Add whipping cream and vanilla extract and continue beating until mixture is fluffy. Add powdered sugar and blend into the cream mixture. Add orange zest and beat on low speed to incorporate. This can be made a day or two before serving. Refrigerate until needed.
When ready to serve dessert, heat currant jelly and marmalade in a 10-inch skillet and stir until melted and smooth. Add drained cherries and heat through. Pour brandy into pan. As soon as it is heated (don’t let it boil) carefully light the pan of cherries with a wand-style butane lighter, the kind I use for lighting the gas grill. Shake the pan a bit as the cherries flame. When the flames die, spoon cherries over crepes on each dessert plate. Drizzle with some of the reduced syrup. Spoon Orange Creme or pipe it with a pastry bag onto the dessert plate.