September 24th is National Cherries Jubilee Day.
Cherries Jubilee is an easy flambéed dessert that is presented with much fanfare. A sauce is made of cooked, pitted cherries and cherry liqueur (Kirschwasser—brandy can be substituted), which is flambéed in a chafing dish and ladled over a dish of vanilla ice cream at the table.
It’s great entertainment for guests, many of whom have never had flambéed food.
You can elaborate on the dish by serving the flaming sauce over an ice cream and angel food cake, pound cake or sponge cake, or over custard or puddings. Cherries and chocolate or lemon pudding are a delicious combination.
Famed chef Auguste Escoffier created the dish for Queen Victoria: Either for her Golden Jubilee celebration in 1887, her 50th anniversary as queen, or her Diamond Jubilee (1897). Hence the name, Jubilee.
Was it the Golden or the Diamond? Were the cherries flambéed with brandy or kirschwasser (cherry eau de vie)? The record isn’t clear.
But you can serve this queenly dish at home, or “jubilee” other any cooked fruit using any 80-proof spirit. It’s an impressive yet easy to make dessert.
While Escoffier’s team pitted and cooked fresh cherries and made the ice cream from scratch, you can elect to save time with canned cherries. We used Oregon Fruit Pitted Red Tart Cherries in Water.
You can elect to flambé the dish or not. Tip: If guests ask to help, put them on flambé duty.
When you serve it to guests, tell them the Escoffier-Queen Victoria story.
RECIPE: CHERRIES JUBILEE
Ingredients For 6 Servings
1 can (16 ounces) best-quality pitted bing cherries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup Kirschwasser or brandy
Premium vanilla ice cream
Optional garnish: 1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. DRAIN. Drain cherries, reserving the juice.
2. MIX. Combine sugar and cornstarch; mix in the juice, a little at a time.
3. WARM. Warm the Kirschwasser or brandy, in a sauce pan on the stove or in the microwave in a flame-proof dish.
5. IGNITE. Ignite with a long kitchen match. Scoop a serving in a ladle; let flame burn out and ladle over ice cream.