It's fun to make a dramatic spectacle by making and serving Café Brulôt at the end of a magnificent Creole meal, with special Brulôt bowls, ladles and cups. If you don't have all the fancy gear, don't despair ... a chafing dish, bent-handled ladle (to keep you from burning all the hair off your arms) and demitasse cups work wonderfully. I learned to make this from Joe Cahn, at the New Orleans School of Cooking, who emphasizes the flourish when making this.

[* -- This, and only this, may be prepared ahead of time in the kitchen. The best way to remove the orange and lemon peel is with a potato peeler; then julienne the pieces of peel. Alternately, and more dramatically, peel the orange and the lemon very carefully, so that you get one long continuous spiral of peel from each.]

Bring your ingredients out into the living room, dining room or wherever your guests are eating. Into a wide mouthed chafing dish over sterno, dramatically free pour brandy and Grand Marnier. Add the sugar, orange and lemon peels, whole cloves and butter while telling the appropriate good stories.

When the butter begins to melt and the mixture begins to simmer, light by filling a bent-handled ladle with the mixture, ignite the mixture in the ladle, holding directly over the flame, and then pouring the lighted mixture into the rest of the Brulôt. (If you're brave, you can hold the ladle a few feet above the pot and pour in a flaming stream, and if you're really brave, if you've cut long continuous strips of peel, let one of them dangle from the ladle and pour the flaming stream along the peel ... it looks great! Have someone standing by with a fire extinguisher in case you screw up.)

After having sung a few voodoo chants and/or appropriate flowery patter, sprinkle some "magic voodoo dust" (okay, cinnamon) into the flames with a flourish. They'll sparkle, all orange and pretty, within the blue alcohol flame. Add coffee to extinguish and serve. Use a Brulôt ladle if you have one; it'll strain out the cloves and peel; otherwise, pour through a strainer. Serve in Brulôt or demitasse cups.


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)