Cherries Jubilee. © Kirt Edblom / flickr.com / 2014 / CC BY-SA 2.0
Cherries Jubilee is a dessert.
It is basically a cherry sauce over vanilla ice cream.
Pitted cherries are poached in a sugar and water syrup, with cherry brandy added (some say plain brandy), then flamed, and served over vanilla ice cream. It is often prepared in a chafing dish because it’s usually flamed at the table in restaurants. When flamed, it can be a spectacular presentation.
The dessert became considered passé and kitsch because it was served at so many group dinners and in so many restaurants, and the quality of it became debased with the use of canned cherries instead of fresh.
Cherries Jubilee was in theory invented for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 celebrations by Georges-Auguste Escoffier.
In his book, “Memories of My Life”, a footnote identifies the occasion for the creation as the Golden Jubilee.
His original version didn’t have ice cream. In his “Le Guide Culinaire”, 1903, he also listed a recipe called “Cerises Jubilee.” This called for Kirsch, but no still ice cream. He also said that instead of making a simple syrup, red currant jelly could be used, or, he says, the simple syrup can be thickened with cornstarch or arrowroot.
In fact, though, of course, cherries poached in a simple syrup, with no alcohol in them, and unflamed, existed well before any of all this, served in a dish without ice cream.
Cherries Jubilee was popular in the 1950s and 1960s.