Local summer fruits are just around the corner. While you wait out the final weeks before their arrival, whet your appetites with these classic desserts that can be made with staples from the supermarket’s produce and freezer aisles. Both Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee are unapologetically boozy, and since both are flambeed, you can’t skip or substitute the alcohol in either recipe. If you want to serve Strawberries Romanoff to kids, use orange juice instead of Grand Marnier — my younger taste testers loved it.
1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste, for berries, plus 1 tablespoon for whipped cream
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon brandy or cognac, optional
1½pints vanilla ice cream
1½cups heavy cream
In a medium bowl, stir 1 tablespoon sugar and orange zest until fragrant. Stir in the berries, Grand Marnier or Cointreau, and brandy, if using, and cover and refrigerate until juicy, at least 1 and up to 3 hours (after 30 minutes, taste and add more sugar if necessary).
Put the ice cream in the refrigerator to soften slightly, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl and using a hand-held or standing electric mixer on high, beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks, adding 1 tablespoon sugar once the cream has thickened (1 to 1½ minutes in a standing mixer on high speed); set the whipped cream aside. In another bowl, beat the ice cream until it is pudding-like, about 10 seconds. Add the whipped cream and, with a flexible spatula, rapidly but gently fold it into the ice cream until uniform. Cover loosely, place in the freezer, and freeze until the mixture is just firm (not frozen solid), about 18 minutes.
Reserve 6 gorgeous strawberry slices and set aside on a paper towel. Divide the remaining berries and their juices among 6 chilled serving dishes, top with the whipped cream mixture, garnish with a berry slice, and serve.
Choose slightly underripe bananas, and be careful not to overcook them.
12 scoops vanilla ice cream
½ cup, packed, dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark or amber rum
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
6 barely ripe bananas, halved lengthwise and crosswise
Chopped, toasted pecans, for garnish, optional
Place 2 scoops of ice cream in each of 6 heat-proof serving dishes and place them in the freezer. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and a pinch of salt. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar mixture and 1 tablespoon rum, and cook, whisking, until the mixture comes to a bare simmer, about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining rum to the skillet, allow it to warm for about 20 seconds, and, off heat, carefully wave a lit match or utility lighter over the skillet (if the sauce is not hot enough the rum may not ignite, but if it is very hot it may flame on its own). Allow rum to burn until it extinguishes, about 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla. Add the bananas and cook, constantly basting them with the sauce, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Working quickly, divide the bananas and sauce among the 6 dishes of ice cream, sprinkle with pecans, if using, and serve.
FRESH CHERRIES JUBILEE
Kirsch is the classic choice of alcohol, but I prefer brandy.
1¾ pounds fresh cherries, pitted and halved
½ cup kirsch or brandy
1/3 cup sugar
12 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish, optional
In a bowl, mix the cherries, 2 tablespoons kirsch or brandy, and sugar, and set aside to macerate for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Place 2 scoops of ice cream in each of 6 heat-proof serving dishes and place them in the freezer.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cherries and their juices and a pinch of salt, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining kirsch or brandy to the skillet, warm for about 20 seconds, and, off heat, carefully wave a lit match or utility lighter over the skillet (if the sauce is not hot enough the alcohol may not ignite, but if it is very hot it may flame on its own). Allow the alcohol to burn until it extinguishes, about 1 minute. Continue to simmer for 1 minute longer, then stir in the almond extract and lemon juice.
Working quickly, divide the cherries and sauce among the 6 dishes of ice cream, sprinkle with almonds, if using, and serve.
Cherries Jubilee With Frozen Cherries
Follow the recipe for Fresh Cherries Jubilee, making the following changes:
1) Substitute 1½ pounds frozen for the fresh cherries.
2) Decrease the quantity of butter to 3 tablespoons.
3) During the initial cooking, do not cover the pan, and increase the cooking time to about 8 minutes.
4) After the alcohol burns out, continue to simmer for another 2 minutes before adding the almond extract.