Dessert on fire

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.

9 thoughts on “Dessert on fire

  1. I am such a little ‘cheater’. I can Easily see the Flaming Cherry Sauce OR just the luscious sounding Orange Cream on the Arby’s turnovers with the hershey bar inside. Just heat the turnovers in the microwave (I buy several at a time to heat and eat). Now I want to make the Orange Cream just for those and maybe some toasted almonds on top!
    Thanks for more great recipes (and I plan to try the Flaming Cherry Sauce with a friend standing by with a fire extinguisher, but not Home Alone)!!!!!

    • Misty, I’ve never had Arby’s turnovers, but recently one of my Facebook friends was wondering what to put on an unfrosted Pop-Tart. Maybe the Orange Creme?
      Be careful with the Flaming Cherry Sauce — fire extinguisher close by is excellent idea! Enjoy!!

      • With your talents I can understand that…..but in all honesty, those Arby’s turnovers with the hershey bar inside are to die for. The turnover itself is high with layers and LAYERS of flaky tenderness. Heated, the hershey bar inside is Luscious. If you ever pass by an Arby’s, promise me you will get one and heat it up as a ‘bedtime treat’. You will have Sweet Dreams!
        They are one of my Guilty Pleasures and I will be heartbroken if they stop selling them.

  2. Sue, I love your recipes. They always tickle my imagination. What about some kind of a chocolate sauce made with cognac? Couldn’t you flame that?? And what’s better than a hot chocolate sundae…would make a great dessert!

    • Everyone needs at least one tickle a day, Micki. I’m glad my recipes tickle your imagination.
      I think a bit of cognac in dark chocolate sauce would add wonderful flavor, but just a bit. I worry that flaming chocolate sauce would burn the delicious chocolate, but maybe flame the cognac and then pour it into the chocolate. And you are right — what could be better than a chubby scoop of premium vanilla ice cream crowned with thick ribbons of hot chocolate sauce spiked with flamed cognac?

  3. What a perfect dessert! You’ve also made it quite easy for us to do in our own kitchens. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

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  5. The combination of orange cream and cherries sounds absolutely mouth-watering! Those look like Oregon Fruit cherries, would I be correct? So excited to try this one!

    The Queen of Tarts

    • Only a trained eye could tell — yes, Erin, these cherries are Oregon Fruit. They worked so well in the Cherries Jubilee.

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