A passion for pineapple – dried pineapple baskets

Pineapple is one of those marvellous fruits which is always welcome in my home. In fact, it’s one fruit that every single member of my family adores, which means that any purchases of the fruit have to be in bulk or not at all in case there isn’t enough to go around…

However, my usual passion for pineapple was changed to puzzlement when I received 6 big, glorious fruits from The King of Fruit growers (geddit? Cuz pineapple has a crown, right? AH-HAHAHAHAHAHahahaha…yeah. Well *I* thought it was cute!)

You see, they’re currently holding  a recipe competition to all pineapple lovers (bloggers and non-bloggers alike), and the challenge was to create a dish using the regal pineapple as one of its components.

My first attempt was a caramelized pineapple mille feuille. I say ‘attempt’, to be honest, it tasted fabulous, but unfortunately the way it had been assembled made it look like a bit of a dog’s breakfast and, as anyone who’s read this blog for awhile may know, I’m not a huge fan of putting any recipes into the ether unless I have photos that convey their tastiness.

That recipe was benched till I have a chance to recreate it in a way that will be aesthetically pleasing, but it still left me without a recipe to put up. As well as a dwindling supply of pineapples (I did mention above that they’re adored by the entire family, right?).

Flipping through my various cookbooks for inspiration, I suddenly remembered an instructional page I’d seen on Martha Stewart’s website for ‘dried pineapple flowers‘, and having made dried banana and strawberry chips before, I thought I’d be able to use the pineapple to make little baskets in lieu of pastry to make tiny little petit-four type desserts!

One thing you need to bear in mind when working with pineapples is that they do not ripen once they’ve been cut from the plant. This means that you need to be very careful when picking your fruit from the grocery store.

And how exactly do you pick a ripe pineapple?

The first step is to gently tug at one of the inner leaves of its crown. If it comes away easily, then it’s a good sign that you’ve got a pretty ripe pineapple on your hands.

However, I’m seeing more and more pineapples sold without their crowns (I guess this makes packing easier, though I think it’s a damn shame), so what do you do if there are no leaves to tug?

Easy – simply flip the fruit upside down and take a sniff at the underside, from where the fruit was cut from the plant. You should be able to smell some sweetness from the bottom (bearing in mind that the more ripe the fruit, the sweeter the smell).

However, this doesn’t come without some perils.

What I’m saying, is that if people start avoiding you and giving you weird glances for being a strange fruit sniffer, don’t blame me!

Once you’ve selected and brought your pineapple home, there’s still the trauma of having to prepare it for either cooking or straight eating.

If you’ve ever purchased a fresh pineapple, you’ll be familiar with the pangs of agony felt as you cut away the outer skin, watching the flesh being cut away by your own hands and knowing that there is no other way.

But the amount of flesh lost depends entirely on how lazy you are. If you’re feeling completely and utterly lazy, you can just cut away all the flesh that has any part of the eyes attached, but if you do this in strips then this means that you’ll lose about 50% of the actual fruit…

However, if you’re willing to put in just a little more effort, you can cut away just enough of the skin so that flesh doesn’t have any of the leatheriness left. Once this is done, use the tip of a sharp knife to cut out each eye (and part thereof) which is left.

Sure, it’s time consuming and tedious, but this means you’ll have much more of the bounty to consume rather than send to the compost heap or garbage tip!

Plus, it also means that you’ll be able to have even larger slices for the recipe below :)

Dried Pineapple Baskets

Ingredients
1/2 large pineapple, prepared as above (skin & eyes removed)
100mL water
100g caster sugar
250mL double cream
1/2 vanilla pod
3-4 fresh passionfruit

Fresh mint leaves or toasted coconut, to serve

1. The first step is undoubtedly the hardest of the entire recipe. This involves slicing the fresh pineapple as thin as possible – my slices were less than 1mm, about as thick as  sheet of laminate. And I was hand slicing with a sharp knife! If you have a good quality mandolin then this would definitely help!

2. Set the pineapple slices aside, then combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer till the sugar has completely dissolved. Carefully dip each pineapple slice into the sugar syrup, then drain and place on a lined baking tray. Preheat the oven to 110 degrees C, then bake the slices for 3-4 hours or till the top is completely dry to the touch. Once they are dry on top, use a spatula to carefully flip them over and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes.

3. Working quickly, remove the dried pineapple slices from the oven and carefully push into the holes of a mini muffin tray. They do cool and harden very quickly, so if some of them harden before you can shape them, just set them aside to use as decorations for another dessert or pop them back into the oven for 5 minutes to soften up again. Once the pineapple slices have completely cooled and hardened, carefully remove and place on a plate.

You can see above that I actually reserved half my pineapple to use as decorations. But you’re gonna have to wait and see what for in a future post ;-)

4. Scrape the vanilla bean pod into the cream, then whip till you get firm peaks. The pineapple is actually very sweet so I found that it was unecessary to sweeten the cream with any sugar (thereby making it chantilly cream) but if you would prefer this then please go ahead!

5. Place a teaspoon of the whipped cream into each dried pineapple ‘basket’, then top with the fresh passionfruit and mint leaves or toasted coconut and serve immediately!

These dried pineapple baskets do work best if your slices of pineapple are paper thin. The thicker the slices, the longer they’ll take to dry and the more difficult they will be to eat. If you’re slicing by hand and not sure about how great your knife skills are, then slice up a whole pineapple – the thinner slices can be dried as above, and the thicker slices can be eaten as is or tossed onto some natural yoghurt!

And now, on a separate note.

Guys, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

I am completely gobsmacked. Overwhelmed. Stunned. Joyous.

Thankful.

Thanks to your love, support, (and most importantly) votes, I WON MY ROUND OF THE MUSHROOM MASTERS!

A resounding victory with 53% of the vote, I have you to thank for winning my round of this competition. Couldn’t have done it without you!

I swear, I think my tiny shriveled little heart did pirouettes of joy in my chest cavity when the polls were closed and I was informed of the win!

However…

It’s not yet over! You see, this is week three of the tournament, and this week the lovely Christie from Fig & Cherry has entered her fabulous shiitake okonomiyaki into the ring, battling against dumpling soup and pizza.

The voting is very much neck and neck at the moment, with Christie in second place by just 3%! It takes just two clicks from you, my darling, lovely, wonderful readers – two clicks to help push her back into the lead!

If you’d like to help her collect the trophy for the third round, please click this link and vote #1 shiitake okonomiyaki!

Comments

  1. MEAN EIRENE
    Twitter: meaneirene
    says:

    Congratulations on winning the Mushroom Masters!

  2. Congratulations on winning the round of mushroom masters!!!

    Our family LOVES pineapples, too, and this is just brilliant. I was just thinking of having a Hawaiian themed party before the year ends (yes, in winter, because I love my guests that much) and the pineapple baskets will definitely make it to the menu! Thanks!

  3. To be honest when I saw the first photo, I was thinking that the basket was pastry! I didn’t realise they were pineapple till I read further. Colour me SUPER impressed!

  4. What a great recipe and so creative. I love the pineapple cups!

  5. That is such a genious idea, now to find a cloth to mop up this bucket load of drool.

  6. Ellie, these look spectacular!

    I have only developed an affection for fresh pineapple in the last year or so (though I still feel no affection for the peeling process :razz: ) and this has got to be the cutest pineapple dessert I’ve seen in that time.

  7. Congratulations on winning! The pineapple cups are too cute – I wonder what other fruit you could use…

  8. What a great creative idea for pineapple – using them as a serving vessel is so appealing! Edible bowls!

  9. congras on the mushrooms!! And love this cute pineapple basket idea :)

  10. egad! that’s some mighty fine recipe.

    thanks, too, on the tip for picking pineapple (i never knew that!) I’m not a fan of pineapple but this ingenious way of making a petite dessert makes me want it badly… haha!

  11. Hmm.. I can see these featuring heavily in my summer catering. A great alternative to pastry and free from nasty allergy producing wheat and dairy pastry! Wonderful.

  12. What gorgeous looking desserts. A wonderful combination of flavors in every bite.

  13. congratulations on winning! i think your pineapple baskets deserve a prize too. they are soooooo beautiful! tbh, i think you have amazing creativity:)

  14. Congratulations on winning! These pineapple baskets are adorable and look delicious – fab :)

  15. Yum, yum, yum! I’d love to replicate this recipe someday if I ever have enough sanity to stay in the kitchen for more than 20 minutes. Delicious recipe and wonderful site! Paris in Pink

  16. congrtats!! These are so amazing. Like lil bursts of sunshine . I can think of so many ways to use these.love them Beth

  17. I love love love pineapple. And I think cutting carefully away at the skin to get more bounty is the way to go haha.

    These little “cupcakes” look so delicious.

  18. What a gorgeous idea!!!

  19. Chris (Tyler's Aunt) says:

    What an awesome idea! This is definitely getting added to my long list of “to try” items!! I’m thinking they could also make a cool vessel in the summer for a mango salsa, or sometimes we’ll make white rice with pineapple, cilantro, some sort of hot peppers, etc. These would work for that as well.

  20. Super CUTE. I think this is a really inventive dessert. love.

    P.s I already sniff some fruits like mangoes., and people do think I’m weird.,…… but I’m unashamed!

  21. THESE are absolutely BRILLIANT!

  22. Pineapple is one of those foods that has such a unique flavor and texture. So light and tropical – but so much work. I love all your pictures. If I was going to make this I think I’d do the one with the toasted coconut on top. Or maybe a slice of banana (dip in lemon juice so it doesn’t go brown) and you’ve got a Pina Colada thing going on.

  23. Beautiful! I love this idea.

  24. Those are wonderful tartlets! What a great idea.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  25. @MEAN EIRENE – Thanks sweetie :)

    @Joy – Enjoy :)

    @Celeste @ Berrytravels – Thanks sweetie :)

    @naomi – Thanks honey :)

    @SexyNinjaMonkey – Thanks!

    @Cindy – Thanks for the lovely comment :)

    @Wei-Wei – I think you might be able to use other fibrous fruits…perhaps apple?

    @Forager @ The Gourmet Forager – Thanks sweetie :)

    @penny aka jeroxie – Thanks hon :)

    @Judy – My pleasure :)

    @InTolerantChef – Thanks hon, glad you like it :)

    @Lisa – Thank you :)

    @amy – Awww, that’s so sweet! Thank you :)

    @Lucy – Thanks honey :)

    @Paris in Pink – Thank you :)

    @beth – Thanks honey :)

    @Thanh – You and me both :)

    @chriesi – Thanks doll :)

    @Chris (Tyler’s Aunt) – That’s a fantastic idea! :)

    @gastronomygal – LOL! Fruit sniffers unite ;)

    @Alessandra – Thanks sweetie :)

    @Denise Michaels – Oooh, that would be a great way to use these pineapple cups :)

    @Deanna – Thanks hon :)

    @Rosa – Thanks honey :)

  26. What a great idea for pineapple! But even more than pineapple i LOVE LOVE LOVE passion fruit. It is probably my favorite fruit but unfortunately is near to impossible to find in the US. I always overfill when I’m in Asia. First time at your site– I LOVE IT! Really wonderful photography and will be following you!

  27. Okay, well, that’s kind of amazing. And well explained, too! I actually might have the courage to try that! Maybe. It still looks way above my skill level. But accessible …

  28. These look so amazing, and I was considering making them for NYE but I was wondering – do you think I could make these in advance and if so, how should I store them in order to keep them crisp?

    Thank you!

  29. @Karen from Globetrotter Diaries – Thank you! :)

    @Rich – Oh, it just needs a little patience and time but I’m sure you could make it work :)

    @CJ – Unfortunately they go soft at the slightest hint of moisture, but you can crisp them up again by popping them back in the oven for about 10 minutes and reshaping them :)

  30. This is really cool! ^^ I love your idea. :o

    Actually, I know of a way of using the whole pineapple (except for the leaves) . I am from Mauritius (you might not have heard of it – oh well, wiki it) and we abhor waste and love pineapples. so, there are a lot of street vendors who sell pre-cleaned pineapples to passer-bys, and of course, people like to pick the biggest ones. So we devised a way to cut it pretty efficiently. I have seen well-practiced vendors skin and prepare a pineapple in one minute flat!!

    So this is how you do it:

    First of all, you slice off the crown, the base and skin it, pretty much as you did, but maybe a tad thinner. Then, instead of picking out the eyes, i want to draw your attention to the pattern that they form. If you skinned it thinly enough, you should see that those eyes are stacked diagonally. All you need to do is slice it off with rather shallow parallel, diagonal slices, to make a groove. Tackle one row after another and you should have a pretty neat looking spiral ^^

    Now, don’t throw away any of the skin the grooves, or even the eyes. Because you can make pineapple juice. Yup. now I do not claim to have invented this., so I will just link the original post and post the relevant part ehre ^^

    http://www.figandcherry.com/recipes/sweet-treats/pineapple-cake-pineapple-drink/

    “Simply wash the skins, add to a large pot and cover generously with water. Then sprinkle in some caster sugar – as much as you like – then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain and chill before drinking.”

    Hope this will make your day ^^

  31. Ummmm….NOM!!! Dried pineapple baskets http://t.co/Wqa6BJU #yourewelcome

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