Flambéing bananas and rum in front of your guests gives you massive kitchen cred. (And this dessert is actually easy!) What’s not good cred? Having the fire department at your dinner party, too. So make sure nothing flammable is near the pan.
Special equipment: If you’re cooking over an electric stove, use a long match or a grill lighter to ignite the rum vapors.
Place the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until a bubbly and slightly thickened caramel forms, about 3 minutes.
Add the bananas, cut side down, in a single layer (try to keep them from touching). Cook until the bottoms are coated with caramel, about 1 minute. (Don’t overcook or the bananas will get mushy.) Using two forks or a spatula, carefully flip the bananas over.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the rum, and let it sit a few seconds so the rum warms up. (Note: You are about to light the rum on fire, so make sure nothing is hanging over the stove, and use caution!) If you’re using a gas stove, place the pan back on the burner over medium heat and slightly tip it so the burner flames ignite the alcohol. (Don’t actually let the alcohol touch the flame, and don’t pour it out of the pan.) If you’re using an electric stove, light a match or grill lighter and lower the flame toward the rum in the pan until it ignites. Remove the pan from the stove and let the flames burn off, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Arrange the bananas on a serving dish, pour the sauce over them, and top with vanilla ice cream if desired.