Cherries, Elsie Style

Elsie de Wolfe's Flaming Cherries, halfway to completion.

Any recipe involving liquor and a match makes dinner a celebration. One of the easiest desserts involving these two elements is Flaming Cherries from Elsie de Wolfe’s Recipes for Successful Dining. As the ending to an evening meal it is simple, basic, and good, a sophisticated version of nursery food.

Flaming Cherries, ready to eat.

Below is de Wolfe’s recipe. Following that is our seat-of-the-pants adaptation, using E & J brandy (my husband called it “wino quality”), canned Bing cherries, and Nuyens Wisniowka, a cherry cordial we found on the bottom shelf of our bar, hidden so well it had a coating of dust. Feel free to substitute our happenstance ingredients with anything suitable that happens to be hanging around your pantry. Our daughter’s verdict? “I didn’t like the cherries but the cherry sauce with the vanilla ice-cream tasted good.” Oh, and in case anybody’s wondering, her serving of ice cream was topped with three cherries without the cherry-liqueur addition.


SOURCE: Elsie de Wolfe’s Recipes for Successful Dining (The William-Frederick Press, 1947)

Take a bottle of very best conserved red cherries and heat well. Add a large wine glass of brandy and set aflame. When flame has died down, add a small glass of Kirsch liqueur. Serve hot with vanilla ice-cream.





An 8-ounce can Bing cherries, drained

1 cup E & J brandy

1/4 cup of Nuyens Wisniowka cherry liqueur

Vanilla ice cream


Heat the cherries in a skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the brandy and carefully light. When the flames subside, add the cherry liqueur. Spoon the hot cherries over ice cream and serve.


3 comments on “Cherries, Elsie Style

  1. teresa says:

    yay for flambee! I finally got up the nerve to do that recently. . .

  2. Albert says:

    Dear Aesthete Cooks,
    I know & adore this fool-proofrecipe & all its varietions or derivations.
    My own version is not with canned cherries but with cherries preserved on old dark rum.
    I just put stoned cherries with a couple of the lose stones, sticks of cinnamon & a pods vanilla in al glas jar. After a year I add some caneshugar. I wait couple of months before use but the taste improves & mellows with time. Also wonderefull in clafoutis (also in one of Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec’s books, I think “La cuisine de Mapie”)
    I use simply the cherry-rum liquid, no other additions, alcoholic or otherwise. I found that home-made vanilla ice-cream makes a lot of difference. Sometimes I serve cerises flambées with crêpes. In that case I make for crêpes légère from the late Ginnette Mathiot’s “La cuisine pour tous” & then I substitute rum (plain, not from the cherries) for her cognac to put into the batter. Personaly I don’t likethe combination of ice-cream & crêpes but most people do. In this country there is hardly a posh restaurant that serves crêpes without. I prefer whipped cream with a little suger , a few drops of lemon juice & on top some strips of lemon zest, wich I pre-cook in lightly salted water to take away the bitterness.
    Is that your cooker in the picture. More elaborate than mine.
    Highest regards,

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