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Roasted Vanilla-Caramel Pineapple

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This spectacular recipe by French pastry honcho Pierre Hermé is guaranteed to be the talk of the party.

This memorable dessert will have your friends talk for weeks. It is not hugely difficult to make provided you can resist the tentation to fiddle with a metal spoon in the hot caramel and remember to make the day before. Vanilla pods are not cheap and this recipe calls for 8 pods.

Vanilla Caramel Roasted Pineapple
A recipe by Pierre Hermé
1 fresh pineapple, about 1.5kg
120 gr granulated white sugar
30 gr pureed banana
3 allspice berries freshly crushed
8 vanilla pods
20 ml rhum
10 thin slices of fresh ginger

In a heavy-bottomed or copper-lined pot, heat the sugar over high heat. Do not add any water and try not to touch it. Never use anything metallic or you'll have instant supersaturation and your caramel will go down the drain.

Wait until the caramel is deep amber. If part of the sugar is caramelized while the rest has not melted yet, turn your pot to move the hot spots under the unmelted sugar.

Split 2 vanilla pods and release the seeds. Add to the caramel along with the ginger and crushed allspice. Leave 10 seconds, then pour a 30ml cold water into the caramel to stop the process. French pastry chefs call this décuire - to uncook. Mix a ladle of this caramel into the puréed banana and add it back into the pot. Bring it to a boil, remove from the fire and add the rhum.

Leave one night to infuse in the fridge.

Filter the vanilla-caramel syrup through a fine sieve. You will get the beautiful sauce you see above (click to zoom).

Peel the pineapple with a knife. I leave the brown eyes as the long cooking time will soften them anyway. Cut in half five vanilla pods horizontally. Using a skewer, drill holes across the pineapple big enough for the vanilla pods to fit in. If you are going to serve the pineapple whole, your guests will be more impressed with vanilla pods inserted horizontally at regular intervals. You could slice through the half pods vertically to release more vanilla but it would make it difficult to insert them in the pineapple. You try.

Heat the oven to 230°C and put your pineapple in the smallest oven proof dish where you can fit him laid on the side. Pour the vanilla-caramel sauce on the pineapple and bake for 60 minutes, turning the pineapple regularly so that every part can bathe in the caramel for a moment. Check that the caramel remains liquid or else it will burn. If too thick, just add half a glass of water. You can always boil it later to thicken if too runny.

Do not forget to stand the pineapple upright on both ends for a few minutes as well.

The cooked pineapple can be cut in horizontal slices or vertically. I cut it at the table and serve it with its sauce, but Mr Hermé uses the slices in tarts. Next time I'll try a pineapple tatin. I failed to flambé my pineapple with rhum, that would have been spectactular!

The first time I made this recipe I was very much impressed by the dramatic look of the finished dish and its profligate use of vanilla. Man, vanilla is almost as magical as truffles, and quite costly too. This recipe used no less than eight vanilla pods for each pineapple.

At first I must say matching pineapple with vanilla did not convince me totally. And adding a bunch of other spices on top of that, really Pierre, aren't you wasting the vanilla? But the second time around it delved on me that all your guests see is the intense yellow pineapple in the caramel peel with black vanilla patches and loads of vanilla seeds. You can't really tell the spices apart in the filtered caramel sauce. Will this recipe become a classic? Maybe. But I think this is really an exceptional recipe and well worth the trouble.

Published 07/03/2007
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12 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by M.
  • on: 08/01/2008
"And adding a bunch of other spices on top of that, really Pierre, aren't you wasting the vanilla?"According to Kenji Hirassa & Mitsuo Takemasa [Spice Science and Technologie | ISBN 0824701445 | page 66] the flavor of vanilla weakens when heated over to 100 degrees Celsius, causing votalization of its essential oil. Adding a small amount of clove or nutmeg [or allspice, M] creates the impression of a stronger vanilla flavor because faded flavors of clove etc when heated are close of that of vanilla.  
  • #2
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 17/01/2008
Yes this recipe make a decadent use of the world's second most expensive spice, vanilla. But Pierre Hermé very much respects vanilla and he doesn't use it all that often in his desserts. But when he does, he goes the whole way with a humongous quantity!
  • #3
  • Comment by Rick
  • on: 25/02/2008
I made this recipe a few months ago. I work and live on a towboat for two weeks every month. The company I work for buys all of our food, so I get to try recipes and ingredients that I would be reluctant to try at home due to the cost. That said, I did not realize how much Vanilla Beans cost! I will have to try to modify this recipe to use Vanilla extract maybe. Not the same visual effect but I hope to come close to the taste.A mistake I made in this recipe was using a pineapple that was not ripe enough. I'm sure the results would have been better for me had the pineapple been sweeter.Rick...
  • #4
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 26/02/2008
Rick, did you find the roasted pineapple recipe on my blog or in a book? Vanilla beans are so expensive, this is indeed one princely recipe! In fact you could make do with less of them, but do try to get at least one for the tiny black seeds. If the pineapple is not ripe enough I think you can ripen it on a sun-facing windowsill for a couple days.
  • #5
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 25/03/2008
To check the price of things I go on Ebay.There are plenty of sellers of vanilla pods there and they seem quite reasonable.Hope that helps someone.Reads a delicious recipe.Pau;
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 27/03/2008
Thanks Paul, if you buy vanilla off the web I recommend you invest in the fattest Tahitian vanilla beans you can find. Clearly they are too wide and too expensive to use them to lard the pineapple, but for most other uses they have no equal!
  • #7
  • Comment by Rosemary Ricchio
  • on: 24/10/2008
HELP!  I'm currently in the process of making your French Corn Pumpkin Pie Millhassou and I see that there's a typo in your ingredients.  Your recipe calls for "5dl milk."  I assumed that meant "5cl."  However, now that I look at the picture on yourwebsite, it looks like there's a lot more milk in that pan.  Can you please email me the correct amount as soon as possible, as I'm planning to let the milk mixture rest overnight (as recommended) and bake the pie around noon tomorrow.

Thanks a million,
Rosemary Ricchio
24 october 2008
  • #8
  • Comment by michael lakin
  • on: 20/11/2008
Please let Rosemary Ricchio know that the answer to her question, strangely enough, is suggested in a novel with the title Siddhartha.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Michael, great novel indeed, and not one of the least digestible of those written in German!

  • #10
  • Comment by joan hobson
  • on: 10/10/2009
Vanilla Pineapple - what do we do with the slices of ginger ?
  • FX's answer→ In the syrup.

  • #12
  • Comment by J
  • on: 27/02/2010
Love IT!!! I am trying to make this wonderful recipe but have a question about the caramel.  How do I keep the caramel liquid throughout the process?  for example I run in to this problem when I try to filter it through the sieve but also when I leave it one night to infuse in the fridge.  Should i be reheating it in order to bring it back to liquid so that I can pour it on the Pineapple?  Or am I possibly doing something incorrectly?

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