Dad's Dramatic Cafe Diablo

March 19, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

My Dad has made this dramatic after dinner coffee at Christmas for as long as I can remember, and it's become a family tradition. It's a wonderful pyrotechnic display at the table with the lights turned down low, as he ladles the flames from high above the dish, down the length of an entire orange peel spiral studded with cloves. Done correctly, the cloves spit and sparkle, adding to the fireworks. Dad got this recipe from a Chef on Captiva Island, Florida by scribbling it down on a napkin as the Chef prepared it tableside. Many years later, on a trip to Denver, he saw it on a hotel menu and ordered it again, wondering if it could equal his first encounter. When Dad questioned the Chef about a step in the process while he was making it, the Chef asked Dad how on earth he knew about the drink, and Dad told him he learned it from watching a Chef on Captiva. Turns out the Denver Chef learned it from the same guy, whose name happened to be Hassan! This uses 4 different liquors, and tastes terrific, and even though some of the alcohol is burned off - it is not for the faint of heart! - Burnt Offerings

Photo credit: stock photo —Burnt Offerings

Test Kitchen Notes

This spiked and spiced dessert coffee is the perfect finale for a great dinner. The flavors of orange and cinnamon complement the rich coffee taste and are not overwhelmed by the subtle contributions of white rum and brandy. The finished cup of coffee is not too sweet and not too spiked -- the amounts are perfectly balanced. I tried a few variations on the recipe: Using Mexican coffee (decaf) which also resulted in a delicious cup, and adding some dark cocoa and a little cream to another cup to please my chocolate-loving husband. It was quite a hit. Follow Burnt Offerings advice and dim the lights so all can appreciate the spectacular flaming of the alcohol coated orange peel. - JoanG —JoanG

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua liqueur
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 cup White Rum
  • 3/4 cup Brandy - divided
  • 8 small cinnamon sticks
  • 8 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 cups good, strong, French Roast coffee
  • 1 orange peel, peeled from an orange in one continuous spiral
  • 10-12 cloves - studded into peel at one inch intervals
  1. Pour the first three liquors, 1/2 cup Brandy, and cinnamon sticks into a large chafing dish or fondue pot with a lid, capable of holding 10 -12 cups of liquid, and heat.
  2. Carefully peel an orange into one, long continuous strip and stud it every inch or so with a whole clove.
  3. When the liquors are hot, carefully hold the orange peel above the dish on a long fork, and using a large spoon or small ladle, pour the liquors down over the orange peel.
  4. Once the orange peel is wet, turn the lights down, and CAREFULLY light a spoonful of the alcohol and pour the flames down the length of the peel. Continue pouring the flames for a minute or two, slightly charring the orange peel.
  5. Drop the orange peel into the dish and cover to extinguish the flames.
  6. Add remaining 1/4 cup brandy, sugar and coffee, stir well, and steep over heat for 5 -10 minutes.
  7. Ladle the coffee and a cinnamon stick into 8 cups and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lapadia
  • hobbybaker
  • JoanG
  • gingerroot
  • wssmom

19 Reviews

Dottie T. January 20, 2016
I, too, had Cafe Diablo on Captiva. Many family celebrations in the 1970's ended with this special treat! We reside in Cape Coral.
lapadia November 10, 2011
OH! This is great and perfect :()
hobbybaker November 9, 2011
I'm looking forward to trying this! It reminds me of a dessert coffee my husband and I had years ago at our first anniversary dinner.
hobbybaker November 9, 2011
I'm looking forward to trying this! It reminds me of a dessert coffee my husband and I had years ago at our first anniversary dinner.
JoanG March 24, 2011
This is my idea of a great dish to flame!
Burnt O. April 7, 2011
Thanks for the great tasting notes! Chocolate is a great idea. Let me know how your party guests like it.
gingerroot March 20, 2011
Wow and YUM!
ellenl March 19, 2011
This sounds amazing. I absolutely LOVE the story--small world, huh? That is the most gorgeous pot, wherever you fond the photo! So wonderful.....thanks for posting this.
Burnt O. March 20, 2011
Thanks - it IS a small world, and this happened before all the technology we're used to today with Google, and foodpickle! Hope you enjoy - it really makes our family holiday special.
wssmom March 19, 2011
LOL I've been going to Captiva (South Seas) for about that long! LOVE the Bubble Room!
Burnt O. March 19, 2011
My Dad's architecture firm designed the original South Seas Plantation. Get your drinks on at the Mucky Duck too!
Burnt O. March 19, 2011
Correction wssmom - Dad tells me that his firm designed a lot of residential and resort projects in the Ft. Meyers / Sanibel area, but South Seas Plantation was not one of them - my bad!
wssmom March 19, 2011
Sounds amazing! I am headed to Captiva Island next week -- is Hassan still around?
Burnt O. March 19, 2011
Wow - I doubt it! My Dad's been making this for over 30 years. It might have been at South Seas Plantation. Make sure you have drinks at the "Bubble Room" while you're on Captiva - it's a hoot!
Sagegreen March 19, 2011
Wild! Great.
hardlikearmour March 19, 2011
This sounds freakin' awesome!
Burnt O. March 19, 2011
Yeah - I wouldn't plan to drive anywhere afterwards. ;-)
Burnt O. March 19, 2011
Thanks! I cannot take credit for the photo - I was lucky to find a stock photo of a very similar dish on the internet. Thank Google!
Lizthechef March 19, 2011
Your tag is perfect for this contest - great recipe and wonderful photo!