There is such a joy to flambéing food – perhaps it appeals to that inner neanderthal in all of us that feels innately proud upon creation of fire. Perhaps it’s just because it feels cool holding a pan of flaming food. However, it must be remembered that it is so much more than just showiness, since the flambéing process serves some very real functions. For one, it takes much of the sharp edge off the alcoholic beverage in use, burning up the fumes from the top while developing the rich flavour of the liquor. Another benefit is that it adds a wonderful little singe to the whole affair. That…and it’s really fun.
This particular dish has a few very special things going on in it – sautéing the pineapple in butter softens the fruit and mellows the acidity, and when the rum and brown sugar are added you end up with subtly fruity caramel sauce. The berries – in this case I used blackcurrants, but any dark berry/forest fruit will work – cuts through the richness with a tart sharpness. The contrast of warm fruits and cool ice cream creates a wonderful experience in the mouth, and the crunch provided by the crushed biscuit provides textural variety.
I have used canned blackcurrants for a few reasons. They come with their own syrup which will be lovely in the dish, and they tend to be soft and tender in a way that is preferable for this dessert.
- Pineapple batons (3 per portion) – I used a fresh whole pineapple, peeled and cut into 16 wedges, but canned would work in a pinch.
- Canned blackcurrants in syrup, or any other similar dark fruit.
- Butter – 1 tbsp per portion, approx.
- White Rum – roughly 1/2 cup
- Brown sugar – roughly 1/3 cup
- Ground cinnamon (optional)
- Plain/vanilla ice cream
- 1 plain digestive biscuit/cookie (or a comparable alternative)
- Empty the canned blackcurrants/other dark fruit into a saucepan and place on a low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure it is warmed.
- After the pineapple is prepared, melt the butter over a medium heat in a large pan – avoid non-stick, as the flames are not good for the coating. Add the pineapple, but be careful not to over-crowd the pan, as you’ll need some space to stir the syrup. Turn the pineapple every couple of minutes until it is beginning to turn dark brown around the edges.
- Pour the wine into a glass/ramekin (do not pour from the bottle, as the flame could ignite early and travel into the bottle. This is a very real possibility and not worth the risk.) Remove the pan from the heat source and pour in the rum. Ignite with a long match/lighter, keeping your face well away from the flame, and taking note of anything above the pan. Allow the flame to burn down naturally – this should take less than a minute. For added fun, carefully throw a sprinkle of cinnamon into the flame and watch it crackle like little fireworks.
- Return pan to the heat and add the brown sugar, stirring well into the rum so that it dissolves. Cook for a further minute or so, just to let the syrup develop.
- To plate, arrange the pineapple into a triangle shape, and carefully spoon the warm berries into the middle of them, with some of the syrup from the can. Place a scoop of ice cream onto the top of the berries, then spoon some of the rum syrup onto the top of that. Use your hands to crush the digestive biscuit and scatter over the top.