Bananas Flambé

Alex cooked this for me during the first dinner that we ate together. Given my fear of fire (I didn't light a match until my senior year of high school), the flames impressed me. Though his presentation sold me the dish before I even tasted it, the deep caramel flavor had me utterly floored.

I'm not a huge banana person, but I continue to love this dish every time Alex makes it, especially when I get to scrape the pan for crispy caramel pieces. And though we're both hugely lactose-intolerant, adding a touch of ice cream turns this superb dessert into an irresistibly simple masterpiece.

3 bananas, sliced
2 tbsp butter (but we used smart balance)
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 oz. dark rum or brandy
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Heat the butter in a pan. Add sugar, allow it to melt. Add bananas and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Move the bananas entirely to one half of the pan, and move that side of the pan off of the heat (so that the heat is beneath the empty half). Add rum to the banana half of the pan, and quickly tilt the pan so that the rum flows to the hot and empty side of the pan. At this point, the rum should catch fire, so shake the pan to cook the bananas in the flames. The flames should die down after a few seconds. Remove bananas from heat, and serve over ice cream.