Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Flambéing is the technique of using alcohol to flame food. In dessert dishes it is usually employed as a final presentational step for a hot or warm dessert and therefore generally done in front of diners either at their own table or a side table. The dish is often briefly finished in butter and sugar (or sugar alone) to achieve some caramelization before the alcohol is added. For maximum effect, attractive cooking utensils—traditionally copper saucepans and chafing dishes—are used over a spirit burner or candle flame, depending on how much of the cooking has already been done in the kitchen. The method of flambéing varies according to how much sauce or juice is in the dish to be flamed. If little or no liquid is already present, the chosen spirit can simply be poured onto the dish and the pan either tilted to catch the flame or a match applied. If the dish is very juicy or has a sauce, then more spirit is usually required to obtain a good flame. It is heated separately in a ladle or small pan, set alight, and poured already flaming onto the dish. Once the flames have subsided, the dessert is served.