Alex Guarnaschelli’s Bananas Foster Is the Dessert You’ve Been Waiting For

12/29/2015 at 01:55 PM ET

Banana Foster
Christian Martinez Kempin/Getty; Inset: Kevin Lync

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

Bananas Foster is a classic for a reason.

When I was a kid, my dad was a fan of the classic flamed desserts and old school French flavors. He worked in a restaurant where he had to make Crepes Suzette and Cherries Jubilee and while he didn’t become a chef, I have always wondered if my love my cooking doesn’t have some roots in my dad’s early work.

Needless to say, I am a great lover of dessert and believe that it makes the meal. It is the only course of the dinner (or lunch) that really isn’t about hunger at all. It’s just about culinary recreation, great flavors and textures.

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: The Secret to Delicious Chicken Soup Is This One Simple Step

Bananas Foster has always been favorite of mine. The crunch of the walnuts and the taste combination of caramelized sugar and bananas? Sold. The ingredients are pretty simple and the taste is great.

If you’re not a fan of vanilla ice cream, sub in some rum raisin and serve vanilla for the kids. I also have subbed in lemon sorbet to lighten the dish. Or if I see those smaller bananas at the grocery store, I sometimes use them to make smaller portions.

You can make the sauce in advance and keep it warm on the stove just before serving. When you are ready to cook the bananas, just make sure you have everything else ready: serving dishes, ice cream and walnuts. That way it gets to the table piping hot and the ice cream almost sizzles and starts to form that lovely pool of flavor all around the caramel and bananas.

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: Win Taco Tuesday with These Garlic Shrimp and Avocado Tacos

If you want to make this without alcohol, simply omit the rum and bump the vanilla extract up to two teaspoons.

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Bananas Foster
Serves 2-4

3 ½ tbsp. dark rum
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ stick unsalted butter
4 large bananas, peeled, sliced crosswise into 1-in. rounds
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 pt. vanilla ice cream

1. Make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the rum, vanilla extract, brown sugar and cinnamon. Bring to simmer and stir to dissolve the brown sugar. Shut off the heat and keep warm on the stove.

2. Just before serving: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the skillet feels pretty hot, add the butter and melt and allow it to brown slightly. Toss in the bananas and arrange them, with a wooden spoon, in a single layer in the pan.  Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn them on their second side and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Pour the rum mixture over them. Stir to coat them and serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Lily on

This looks lovely. But no flambé?

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