Is There A Difference Between Bananas Foster And Flambé?

If you've ever walked through a restaurant toward your table only to be distracted by the "whoosh" of a dessert going up in flames, chances are, you might be familiar with bananas foster. It's a stunning display of a dessert that is just as enticing as the smell of the caramel sauce browning in the pan. But if you've ever seen bananas foster on one menu and bananas flambé on another, you might be a little confused as to what exactly sets the two desserts apart.

The original dessert is actually bananas foster, which was created in 1950's New Orleans by Chef Paul Blange, according to The Kitchen Girl. The chef had been tasked by the owner to make a dessert that used bananas, and with his creativity and wonderful flavor pairings, there was no looking back for this classic and always-popular dessert. 

But what you might not have realized is that bananas foster and bananas flambé are nearly identical.

Flambé is a cooking method

According to Kitchn, bananas foster is a specific dessert that features bananas cooked in caramelized sauce before dark rum and banana liqueur are added, lit on fire briefly until some of the alcohol cooks down, and served with vanilla ice cream on top. Flambé is a technique of cooking, namely when alcohol is added to the dish and lit on fire for a longer period of time. Ultimately, bananas foster uses flambé to be prepared. But bananas flambé indicates a slightly different dessert from the traditional bananas foster that has been further flambéd.

It is worth noting that not all of the alcohol will burn off of this dessert, especially when it comes to bananas foster, which is heated for less time than bananas flambé. According to The Kitchen Girl, some prefer to use bourbon or swap it in if they don't have dark rum on hand. But another consistency you can likely find between bananas foster and bananas flambé — apart from the cooking technique — is that the bananas shouldn't be overly ripe as to keep them from getting too soft.

So the next time you eat anything — sweet or savory — that had alcohol added to it before being lit for a flashy and fiery show, know it is being flambéd. And don't necessarily expect bananas!