September 7, 2010
The second installment of my pineapple cinnamon extravaganza is....Caramelized Pineapple and Cinnamon Creme Brulee. This was a new challenge for me, as I have never made creme brulee before. The logical thing to do would be to start with a traditional vanilla recipe, but I have never been under the illusion that I am logical. Since the base for creme brulee and ice cream is so similar, and the Pineapple Cinnamon Ice Cream turned out so well, I thought that the flavors would probably work in a creme brulee too. It turned out I was right!
I don't really have anything to compare it with, since I've never even tasted creme brulee - gasp! But this treat was so good! I did not have a blowtorch, so I had to compromise and use my broiler. While I'm sure the blowtorch would have yielded superior results with the hard, crackling sugar effect, my broiler worked just fine for this creme brulee novice. The caramelized pineapple added a rich, sweet surprise at the bottom of the smooth and creamy creme brulee. While my sugar topping may not have been perfect, the extra crunch on top of the velvety custard was so good.
Caramelized Pineapple and Cinnamon Creme Brulee
1 fresh pineapple, cut into pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
About 6 Tbsp sugar or sifted brown sugar, for topping
Heat oven to 500F, and position oven rack 6 inches from the broiler. Slice up the pineapple and arrange on a buttered baking sheet. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the pineapple. Place the baking sheet under the broiler, and broil until the pineapple turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Center the oven rack and reduce temperature to 200F.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk and cinnamon until it just begins to boil. In a 1 or 2 quart measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until well blended but not airy. While whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot cream. Still whisking, slowly add the remaining cream, this will prevent the eggs from curdling. Arrange the caramelized pineapple pieces in the bottom of your baking dishes.
Tap the measuring cup against the counter to remove any air bubbles, then strain the mixture over the pineapple pieces in your baking dishes. You can use 6 ramekins or any small, shallow dish that will hold 3/4 cup of liquid. Bake the custards for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the centers are set. This took about 80 minutes in my oven. Tap the sides of the dish, and the custards should hold firm.
Place the custards on a cooling rack until they reach room temperature. Cover each dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To caramelize the sugar with blowtorch: When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of each custard evenly with about 1 tablespoon of sugar. Using a blowtorch, brown the sugar until it bubbles and colors. Repeat for each custard.
To caramelize the sugar in a broiler: Preheat the broiler and fill a shallow roasting pan with ice cubes. Sprinkle the custards with the sugar topping, and put the baking dishes on the bed of ice. Place the pan under the broiler. Watch the custards carefully, depending on your oven, it can take a few seconds or minutes to caramelize the sugar. When the sugar bubbles and browns, remove the custards from the oven and out of the ice bed. Let them settle down before serving.
(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan's: Creme Brulee)