How to make cherries jubilee (with sour cherries, too!)

A classic, dramatic dessert

Cherries jubilee, invented by chef Auguste Escoffier to celebrate 50 years of the reign of Queen Victoria, has been wowing dinner party guests for well over 100 years.

sour cherriesNot only does it taste wonderful but its preparation is a thing to behold. Break out the brandy, make sure you've got a fire extinguisher handy and give this classic recipe a try, adapted by NAIT chefs.

Makes 4 servings



45 ml (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
75 ml (5 tbsp) granulated sugar
450 g (1 lb) sweet, ripe Bing cherries (or sour cherries; see sidebar)
15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
30 ml (2 tbsp) orange juice
30 ml (2 tbsp) Kirschwasser (cherry liquor)
30 ml (2 tbsp) Grand Marnier


Have all ingredients measured out and at hand, as this preparation proceeds very quickly.

Try it with sour cherries 

If you've got a healthy harvest of backyard cherries, you're in luck, because they'll work just as well as store-bought sweet cherries.

"Substituting sour cherries is no problem," says Gabriella Nemetvolgyi (Culinary Arts '95), sous chef with eat AT NAIT, the polytechnic's food services team.

"If the sour cherries are very tart or if you prefer sweetness, add more sugar [to taste] when you’re making the sauce. You could also cut the lemon juice to a teaspoon."

In a sauté pan, combine the butter and sugar and stir over medium-high heat, for 2 to 3 minutes, until a little golden brown color develops.

Add in the cherries, lemon juice, orange juice and Kirsch. Sauté to soften cherries, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes.

Tilt the pan toward you to pool the cherries and juices on one side of the pan. Add the Grand Marnier* to vacant side of the pan as you tilt the pan back toward the flame (use a match or barbecue lighter if you are not cooking with natural gas, which will ignite the alcohol vapour on its own). Be careful to stay clear of the flame.

Let the flames burn out, stirring the cherry mixture and serve over vanilla ice cream.

*Pre-measure the alcohol into a small container. NEVER pour alcohol directly from the bottle into a hot pan because you are then at risk of the flame igniting the vapor and travelling into the bottle and causing it to explode. Keep a fire extinguisher available.



60 ml (4 tbsp) Grand Marnier
30 ml (2 tbsp) white sugar
250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream, lightly whipped
4 ea sprigs of fresh mint or orange, thinly sliced


Add Grand Marnier and sugar to cream. Whip on high setting, until soft to stiff peaks form. Spoon onto to cherries and ice cream. Add mint or orange slices.

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