When the waiters at Alfred's Steakhouse in San Francisco make this tableside, heads turn. Do it yourself and you'll see why: Flames shoot up from the pan, glittering with sparks from dashes of cinnamon. Rather than the traditional pecans, Alfred's adds crunchy cubes of toasted cinnamon brioche to the dish. For safety, use a butane lighter, a long-handled metal spatula, and a trivet on which to set the pan. (Use regular-proof rum if you want less flame.) Have all your ingredients and tools set before you start, since the cooking will go fast.
1 4- to 4 1/2-in.-wide section of sturdy brioche bread*, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/3- to 1/2-in. dice (4 to 4 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 to 10 scoops vanilla ice cream (1 qt. ice cream is plenty for 8)
Zest of 1 large lime (about 1 tbsp.), plus 1 lime to zest at table with a Microplane
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 of kosher salt
6 to 8 medium firm-ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-in.-thick slices on the diagonal
1/4 cup dark rum (such as Matusalem Gran Reserva)
1/4 cup overproof/151 rum (such as El Dorado)
2 tablespoons amaretto
Ground cinnamon in a shaker, for sprinkling into flame
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup whipping cream
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 300°. Spread bread cubes on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toast until well browned and crisp, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Sift powdered sugar with cinnamon into a bowl. Add croutons and toss to coat.
Put a scoop of ice cream in each of 8 to 10 shallow bowls; sprinkle with lime zest. Keep frozen on a rimmed baking sheet until ready to serve.
Turn off any overhead fans. Divide ingredients for bananas in half (to cook in two batches) and arrange next to burner (combine liquors, then divide in half). Remove four ice cream bowls from freezer and surround each scoop with about 1/4 cup croutons.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add butter and brown sugar and cook until they've fused into a golden brown, thick, bubbling caramel sauce, about 3 minutes. Add salt and bananas. Turn bananas several times to coat in caramel sauce.
Remove pan from heat and pour in liquor. Standing back, ignite with lighter (flames will shoot up). Immediately sprinkle with 2 shakes of cinnamon to create sparks.
Set pan back over medium-high heat (alcohol will flare up again). Stir in lime juice and cream, then let sauce cook, stirring with spatula occasionally, until bubbling and slightly thickened, 1 minute.
Spoon sauce and bananas into bowls, around ice cream. Zest half of lime over bowls and serve immediately.
Wipe out pan with paper towels and make a second batch of bananas Foster with remaining ingredients.
*Alfred's uses the 15.000 BTU Iwatani 35FW portable butane stove, approved for indoor and outdoor use; find at amazon.com ($75).
Make ahead: Croutons, up 1 week, kept airtight at room temperature. Scoop ice cream up to 1 day ahead and sprinkle with zest, and peel bananas up to 1 day ahead, wrap in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature, then slice just before cooking.
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