Created by Chef Auguste Escoffier in honor of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration, this dessert was created sometime between 1887 and 1897. There’s some conflict over whether it was the Queen’s Golden Jubilee or Diamond Jubilee for which this sweet cherries concoction was made, but there’s no argument that it was presented because cherries were her favorite fruit.
The original recipe for this tasty dish did not include ice cream. It simply featured cherries poached in a simple syrup and warmed brandy which was set on flame immediately prior to serving.
While this wasn’t a dessert typically made at home during the retro years (most of our mom’s would never dream of deliberately setting food on fire), it could often be found on exquisite menus during the ’50s and ’60s. Cherries Jubilee made during celebrations often used a modified recipe which required no flame. Same goes for what mom or grandma might have made, even if vastly different, and called Cherries Jubilee.
Since today (September 24th) is Cherries Jubilee Day, we thought you might consider making some for yourself. The original version created by Escoffier may not have included any real measurements (we couldn’t find any). We’ve also included a modernized version.
Simmer fine stoned cherries in (simple) syrup. Drain (save the syrup!) and place cherries into small silver, porcelain or glass fireproof dishes. Bring the syrup to a boil and add a bit of cornstarch (or arrowroot) diluted with cold water, until syrup has thickened. Pour syrup over the cherries. To each dish, pour a tablespoon of warmed kirsch (Kirschwasser, which is a cherry liqueur), and set flame to it at serving.
Pour the juice from a pint jar of Bing cherries into the top pan of a chafing dish. Place the pan directly over flame and bring the juice to a boil. Add cornstarch (or 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot) dissolved in cold water to thicken the sauce. Add the cherries and stir them in the sauce until fully heated. Pour in 2 ounces of Kirschwasser and set aflame. Serve the flaming cherries and sauce over vanilla ice cream.
Plan on making this dessert once enjoyed by socialites? Let me know how yours turns out!