For a few fleeting weeks in the summer time, fresh cherries appear in the grocery markets. I can’t help getting a carton at least once. Of all the summer fruits, I believe that cherries are the most elegant. But use them quickly, as they perish rapidly.
Cherries remind me of my first visit to New Orleans during Mardi Gras some years ago.. We took a break for a leisurely afternoon meal at a restaurant down a side street – Antoine’s. The menu was in French – we were lost – the waiter recommended Cherries Jubilee for dessert. The dessert came in a chafing dish, and to our surprise, the waiter ignited the dessert and also the table cloth with his brandy-infused flames! After several glasses of wine, if was a fun ending to our trip!
Antoine’s is one of the the oldest family operated restaurants in the country – fifth generation relatives of the original owner. The restaurant dates to 1840 and is 174 years old serving French and Creole cuisine. The menu and formal atmosphere has changed little over the years – the menu is still in French, starched white tablecloths, there are all sorts of exhibits, photos of Mardi Gras and mementos of days gone by which line the walls and dining rooms. It’s a part of the history of this city.
Cherries Jubilee, Crepes Suzette, Bananas Foster
These are all desserts that are flambed at the dining table at traditional New Orelans’ restaurants. Cherries Jubilee is made of cherries soaked in brandy and ignited and flamed at the table. The cherry sauce is served over ice cream. This dessert originated in England at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Crepes Suzette is similar. Here dessert crepes are immersed in an orange sauce and flambed.
I’ve had various success at flaming brandy and other liquors–it helps if the brandy is warm. I tried flaming vanilla once; that was a total bust. For this dessert, I decided to skip the flaming; it’s a little too much for this dessert and doesn’t add to the essence. As a disclaimer, make sure you know what you are doing before attempting to add flames to a dessert at at table. Liquor alcohol has a very low temperature burning point, but it can still have unintended results..
For my dessert, I took parts of both Cherries Jubilee and Crepes Suzette. I made a cherry sauce with liqueur and brandy and served it with crepes and whipped cream/topping. It could be served with ice cream, if desired. It is an elegant and attractive dessert worthy of the cherries and was delicious!
Crepes are somewhat touchy to make, but once you get the hang of it –it is easier than it appears. Crepe batter is a very thin batter. Make it an hour or two ahead of time and let it “set.”
I use a small six inch non-stick Teflon skillet for frying the crepes. The key is to get the temperature of the pan fairly hot; and then keep at this setting on the stove. Add some butter–it should sizzle and melt quite rapidly; but not burn. Then add about 1/4 cup batter (this was 2 scoops of my 1/8 cup measure) and swirl so the batter goes to the edges.
Let the crepe cook completely on the first side, then flip over for just a few seconds on the second side. The crepe pictured above isn’t done yet. The crepe’s cooked side should look like the one below after it is flipped.
Remove from stove and fold in half and then make another fold for a fan shape.
For the cherry sauce, I wanted the flavor of the cherries to predominate. I made the sauce of butter and sugar along with some of the cherries, cherry juice, water and port wine. This cooked down to about half the volume. I mashed and strained off the cherries. Then I added Amaretto Liqueur, brandy and the rest of the whole cherries and heated this through. It was quite tasty!
Pour some of the sauce on a plate, top with a crepe and ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. Brings me back to New Orleans.
Cherry Crepes Jubilee
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp butter
Instruction and Steps:
- Mix milk and flour,
- Stir egg with wire whip and mix into batter,
- Add water and vanilla extract, stir, this should be a thin batter,
- Set aside for an hour or two to rest.
- Heat 6″ non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tsp butter, let it melt,
- Add 1/4 cup batter to the skillet and swirl so that the thin batter coats the bottom,
- Let the crepe cook until the dough does not appear moist,
- Carefully use a spatula and flip the crepe over, cook just a little longer on second side, remove from skillet and transfer to a plate;
- Add another tsp butter to skillet and continue with another portion of batter, transfer to plate, adding wax paper between crepes.
Cherry Sauce with whole cherries
- 3 cups ripe sweet cherries, reserve cherry juice
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup port wine
- 2 Tbsp Amaretto Liqueur
- 2 Tbsp Kirsch (cherry brandy) or raspberry brandy
Instructions and Steps
- Wash and sort the cherries,
- Using a fork or knife, pit the cherries and remove the stems and any hulls, set cherries aside, reserve and save as much cherry juice as possible.
- In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until bubbly.
- Remove from heat, add the water and port wine and stir. Return to stove.
- Add 1 cup of the cherries and all the cherry juice to the sauce on the stove.
- Boil and stir until reduced to half.
- Mash the cherries in the sauce and then strain them off. Return the sauce to the stove.
- Add the remaining 2 cups cherries, the Amaretto Liqueur and brandy. Cook and stir one or two additional minutes.
Assemble the crepes:
- Cherry Sauce
- Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream/Whipped Topping
- Pour some of the sauce with cherries on a serving plate.
- Fold a crepe in half, then fold again to make a fan shape, place over the sauce.
- Add a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream/whipped topping over the sauce.
Galatoire, Leon 2003. Galatoire’s Cookbook. Pelican Publishing Company.
Wohl, Kit, 2007. New Orleans Classic Desserts, Pelican Publishing Company.