Focusing on local foods all the time can stall your creativity. I’m speaking from personal experience here. Of course, when food is on, it is ON. I can sing the praises of fresh berries and cherries for weeks, celebrate citrus all winter, and focus my whole world around apples and pumpkins in the fall.
But even in California there is this short time of the food blahs. Or at least the food blogger and recipe developer blahs. For me, that time falls when I’ve squeezed every bit of creativity out of citrus for the season and I’m waiting for the strawberries and cherries to start. Right about now.
It’s this time when I’m glad I embrace global foods as much as I do local.
I can’t imagine life without the occasional banana or pineapple. I just like to make sure I buy foods from here when they are available here. But I still need the inspiration a little tropical fruit can give, especially in terms of desserts.
To be honest with you, I didn’t even use fresh pineapple in this. A while back I bought a big bag of unsweetened frozen pineapple for smoothies. And as things usually go when a family of two buys Costco size bags of things, my smoothie cravings ran out long before the pineapple did.
So as I was cleaning out the freezer for the current kitchen remodel, I decided to thaw it out and use some of the juice and a bit of chopped fruit to make a pineapple tart. A twist on a lemon meringue pie, but in tart form with Italian meringue. Oh, and the crust uses coconut oil.
So yeah, it kind of tastes like a pina colada.
Pineapple Tart with Italian Meringue
Makes: 8 to 10 servings
What you’ll need:
1/2 cup coconut oil (at the same consistency as softened butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup pineapple juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped thawed frozen pineapple
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
4 large egg whites
How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the crust, mix together the coconut oil and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat for at least 1 minute, until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the egg. Next add the vanilla and salt. Mix in the flour a little at a time until all ingredients are combined into a cookie dough.
Press the dough evenly into the sides and bottom of an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick the bottom in a few places with a fork. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until firm and slightly browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
To make the filling, place the 4 yolks in a bowl and beat gently with a fork until the yolks break up. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in the water. Continue to stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. It will resemble a clear pudding.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the warm thickened pudding-like mixture into the egg yolks as you whisk constantly. Add a few more tablespoons and continue to whisk. Finally pour the contents of the bowl with the yolks back into the saucepan and continue to whisk. Whisk in the pineapple juice and stir in the butter. Return to medium and bring back to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring often.
Strain the filling to remove any solids that may have formed when you combined the egg yolks. Stir the chopped pineapple into the strained filling. Pour the filling into the crust and set aside while you make the meringue.
To make the meringue. Stir together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Stop stirring and insert a candy thermometer. Allow the syrup to come to 238 degrees F.
While the syrup cooks, whisk the egg whites into soft peaks in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Once the sugar comes to temperature, turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites. Turn the mixer to medium-high and whip until a thick meringue forms, about 1 minute.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and pipe over the pineapple filling.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the meringue is firm and browned. Let the tart cool for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the filling to set up.