As much as I like caramel, I prefer to have it in small doses. A little goes a long way when it's paired with nuts or chocolate, while a tart or cake filled only with caramel would probably be too sweet for my liking. Because the theme of this month’s Sugar High Fridays event, hosted by Debbie of Words to Eat By is caramel, I thought I would try to use this deep and decadent confection in a few different ways.
A quick check of my cookbooks turned up a few ideas. I had really liked the passion fruit caramel sauce from my previous post, and I’ve always enjoyed the deep, complex flavours of roasted pineapple when its sugars become caramelized. Add a touch of caramel dust, and here was a dish that was caramel, without being overly rich or sweet.
This ended up being quite a simple and delicious dessert. The sweetness of the passion fruit caramel nicely complements the tartness of the pineapple. The passion fruit seeds and caramel dust add some textural contrast. A dollop of crème fraîche gives a touch of creaminess and helps cut the sweetness of the dish. And a small green pineapple leaf, while inedible, adds some much needed colour to the dessert.
Many thanks to Debbie for hosting this event. On an unrelated note, I hope to return to posting on a much more regular basis in the coming weeks. There’s so much I’d like to write about, but as always, so little time.
Roasted Pineapple with Passion Fruit Caramel and Caramel Dust
(inspired by The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller)
- 1 ripe pineapple
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
To cut the pineapple into 8 chops, begin by removing the top and bottom of the pineapple. Cut 8 small triangles, each about 1-inch long from the pineapple leaves to use as garnish. Set triangles aside. Slice the pineapple in half lengthwise.
With each half skin side down, cut a V-shaped wedge in the middle of each half to remove the core. Slide a knife under the pineapple skin, and follow the contour of the pineapple to separate the skin from the flesh. Use a pairing knife to remove any remaining eyes/notches.
At this point, you should have four long lobes of pineapple. Cut each lobe into two evenly-sized 3-inch tall pieces. Use a pairing knife to smooth the edges and sides. Reserve any remaining pineapple for another use.
In a large ovenproof pan, heat oil and stand pineapple chops right-side up in the pan. Slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and add to the pan. Transfer the pan to a 300F oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until tender. Baste pineapples chops occasionally with pan oils and juices. Remove from oven and allow pineapple chops to cool at room temperature.
Passion Fruit Caramel
(adapted from The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp light corn syrup
- ½ cup unsweetened passion fruit juice
- 2 tbsps unsalted butter
- Pulp from 2 ripe passion fruits
In a small saucepan, combine ¼ cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil the mixture, swirling the pan occasionally until the mixture turns deep amber and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Remove the from heat and carefully whisk in the passion fruit juice and butter from a distance (as the caramel may splatter). Whisk the mixture over low heat until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve, and reserve until ready to use, or refrigerate for up to two days.
Before serving, stir in the passion fruit pulp, including the seeds, into the caramel.
Makes about ¾ cup.
(adapted from Wild Sweets by Dominique and Cindy Duby)
- ½ cup and 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsps water
- 2 ½ tbsps butter
- 1/8 tsp salt
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water, and heat on low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to high, and heat the mixture until it turns golden in colour. Remove from heat and add butter, whisking until completely incorporated.
Pour caramel onto a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat. Allow caramel to cool and harden. Break ½ of the caramel into small pieces, and grind in a food processor into a powder. Reserve the remaining caramel for another use.
Makes about 1/3 cup
- 2 tbsps crème fraîche, whipped
Place a spoonful of passion fruit caramel at the centre of each plate. Place the pineapple chop on the caramel, place a dollop of crème fraîche on top of the pineapple, and top with a pineapple leaf. Sprinkle the caramel dust around the dish and serve.
Makes 8 servings.