New Year’s Eve isn’t about cooking. It’s about dazzling.
But while most people are focused on Champagne or hors d’oeuvres, it could be more fun to focus on dessert. Two simple ingredients — fire and ice (cream) — can add serious wow factor to any dessert, including those you purchase.
First, the fire. So long as they are intended, flames add panache to just about any dish. They also can add flavour (usually thanks to the alcohol that provides the flame) and texture.
For liquor to burn well, it needs a high alcohol content. To avoid having to heat the alcohol before igniting it (necessary with most liquors) use 151-proof rum, which ignites easily at any temperature. In fact, it is so flammable, don’t cook with it.
Use it for dramatic effects around a plated dessert. For example, use biscuit cutters to cut round pieces of sliced pound cake, brownies or other purchased cake-like dessert.
Next, use a melon baller or other scoop to remove a small section from the centre of the cake or brownie, then fill that section with ice cream of a contrasting colour (vanilla for brownies and chocolate for pound cake).
Place the dessert in the centre of a small serving plate with enough of a lip to contain a small amount of liquid. Garnish as desired, then carefully pour about 15 ml of 151-proof rum around the cake.
Plate all the desserts in this manner and arrange them on the table. You do not want to carry flaming liquid.
Once everything is set, use a match or lighter to ignite the rum. It should burn off in about a minute.
If you prefer your desserts to be less of a fire hazard, consider using unusual ingredients to create doctored ice-cream sundaes. Simply soften vanilla ice cream in the microwave, mix in the ingredients of your choice, then freeze again for several hours.
Good choices this time of year include fig jam, crumbled baklava, crushed gingerbread cookies and smashed hard mint candies or candy canes. Whatever you mix in, reserve extra for drizzling over the top of the ice cream.