“I tried sugar cubes soaked in 151 a few months ago for a dessert and was massively disappointed, not only in the brevity of the display, but also in the…well, *wimpy* size of the flame,” says cayjohan. “I’m wondering what I did wrong, or if I was expecting too much? Is the sugar cube method a safety compromise for us amateurs as opposed to the few spectacular displays of things a-fire that I’ve chanced to experience in restaurants (not using sugar cubes)?”

There are secrets to spectacular flaming, says Caroline1, just as there are secrets to stage magic. “Many restaurants use ‘fool the eye’ techniques and soak things such as small pieces of cotton with denatured alcohol, which burns much longer,” she says. “Flaming shish kebab” was big in the ’50s, says Caroline1, and “the shishes (skewers) were made to look like swords with an actual cup where the handle joined the skewer and for service alcohol soaked cotton was set aflame in them.” “In the original Baked Alaska, an eggshell half was pressed down into the meringue to hold the brandied sugar cube,” says WNYamateur. “Gorgeous show!” But “booze just doesn’t have as much ‘fuel’ in it as denatured alcohol, or even olive oil,” says Caroline1.

“I’ve seen this go bad…have something on hand nearby to put out that fire,” says foodloverlori. “I saw bananas Foster go bad once….spill onto a cordless phone and melt that badboy. Take care.”

Discuss: Garnishes to set on fire?

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