Bananas Flambe




Introduction: Bananas Flambe

About: In a world where the blind leads the blind, who do you follow?

Yes, I know it's Flambé, but ibles won't allow special characters in the title!

Few deserts look so complicated, turn as many heads, taste as amazing, and are as deceptively easy as flambé ...anything. 

I promise, this is super easy, super delicious, and will grab LOTS of attention at a party or dinner for loved ones.

Sidenote:  All the pictures and videos for this instructable were shot with a refreshed battery that was nearly dead to start with using this technique!

Step 1: Ingredients / Materials

Makes 2 servings, it's best to make in small batches as it's way easier to control a smaller pan.  (and more spectacular when you light it on fire several times if you have lots of people to serve!) 

Frankly, the measurements don't really matter, so long as they're roughly right --  I didn't measure anything - and it always turns out!

  • 1 large banana *see notes
  • about a quarter cup of butter (margarine would work)
  • about a quarter-to-half cup of Brown/Golden sugar
  • 1 lemon, a little rind and juice (makes many servings from 1 lemon)
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Liquor: about 1 oz. I used Brandy, but Rum would work. 
  • Quality Vanilla Ice Cream (not pictured)
Notes on banana ripeness -- I used bananas that still had veins of green - because I like them to have some texture after they're cooked. 
-Unripe (fully green) means it'll be bitter and woody, avoid (unless you like woody bananas)
-Under-ripe (some green) means the cooked product will be similar to 'soft ripe' raw, this is how I like them
-Ripe (fully yellow) means you'll have quite-soft finished product
-Overripe (dark yellow/brown) means you'll have soggy mush, use these for banana bread, they are no good here.

  • Stove of some sort, gas preferable -- see notes.
  • Heat-proof tools - something that won't melt. spatula/spoons/scoops
  • Small skillet
  • Cutlery close at hand
  • Zest grater
  • Good knives are handy
Notes on your stove choice:  I used gas because its a dream to cook with -- heat is instant, even, and when lighting your end product on fire, it's safer to have the flame ready to go -- rather than trying to use a lighter and singing your knucle hairs.

Step 2: Prep Your Work Area

This step is VITAL.  Once you start, you can't stop (easily) so be prepared!

It's best to be ready, rather than freak out when you have a hot pan smoking because you're missing one thing.  The beauty is there's so few ingredients, its not hard to be prepared.
Set up your work area with plenty of space to set down a hot pan or utensil, move things around, and be generally be ready for the unexpected.  You want everything in close reach, but not cluttered!

Obligatory warning:  This is liquid naplam we're working with, oil and sugar in a pan that we will be starting on fire -- tie back long hair, wear natural fibers (cottons/wools), and avoid synthetics.  Be ready with an appropriate extinguisher or box of baking soda for if it lights on fire before you add the flamable ingredients.

Step 3: Prep Your Ingredients

This one's easy also
  1. Slice your bananas into your favourite size chunks, I find bisecting (like a banana split) lengthwise, then cutting into 8 total pieces yields a good piece size. 
  2. Clean your lemon - wash it to remove that wax they put on, since we'll be zesting it and you don't want nasty chemicals in your food.
  3. Put a slice in your lemon, leaving it intact so it's easier to zest into the pan, if you prefer, zest the whole lemon beforehand - The choice is yours!
  4. Tidy before you start!  Toss banana peels out so they're not in the way!
Now is also a good time to get someone ready on the ice cream.  They'll need to have it dished up ready to get the hot awesomeness that's about to spring forth from your culinary mastery.

Step 4: Let's Get Cooking!

It's gonna go fast now -- here we go!
  1. Start the stove on low/medium heat.
  2. Add butter to the pan
  3. Add a few scrapes of lemon zest to the pan while the butter melts
  4. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the pan
  5. Add the sugar to the pan, and stir until it melts
  6. Once the whole mixture comes to a boil, add the bananas and sautee for about a minute.  Keep a close eye on it - it should stay brown and not smoke.  Smoke means you're burning it.  Turn down the heat and try again.
  7. Now the bananas should be soft but not mushy.  Time to add a splash of Brandy to the hot mix.  It will immediately boil, so be careful of spatter.
  8. Here comes the magic -- The alcohol as a liquid won't burn very well, but the VAPOUR given off by the boiling liquid is VERY flamable.  Gently tilt the edge of the pan toward the flame and it will ignite spontaneously (see video)
  9. Scoop some ice-cream. (not pictured)  I bet you can figure this part out.
  10. Pour deliciousness over the ice cream, and it should caramelize into awesome-er-ness.
Really, it's that easy! 

Step 5: Vee-dee-oh!

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    11 years ago on Introduction

    Nice - what's your advice on the ripeness of the 'nanas?



    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Good question -- I used slightly unripe bananas, such that when they cooked they would soften. Starting with ripe or over-ripe means you get really soggy fruit. Really I'm sure any would do.


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    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Step 5...the one entitled "vee dee oh"


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Ooh thank you, the youtube link worked.
    is igniting the vapor important in the process of completing the flambé?
    I get sketchy around open flames like that. Terrible experiences o.O


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    It's not a particularly hot or scary flame -- if its terrifying, premeasure your liquor so your hand isn't over the pan for as long as mine was -- quick pour, and give the pan a tilt away from you, and it will ignite. really, its super easy and if you don't splash alcohol all over the place the flame will stay in the pan quite happily.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    if it's not embedded right for you, use


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is actually a classic Dessert commonly called "Bananas Foster"
    EES Deeleeeshus!
    Nice 'ible