One of the sweetest fruits—and a particular favorite of mine—is the pineapple. This exotic fruit tastes wonderful baked in a tarte tatin in place of the traditional apples and, of course, it needs less added sugar. The confident aroma and lusciousness of the pineapple pairs remarkably well with stronger spices and flavorings, and in this recipe I have contrasted it with fragrant lemongrass and a hint of chili. You might be surprised by how successfully these two spices marry with the fruit—and with the buttery flavor of the pastry—to make a truly superb dessert. If you like, serve it with a scoop of coconut ice cream or sorbet.
– PREPARATION TIME 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling and at least 5 minutes resting.
– COOKING TIME 1 hour.
– 8 ounces puff pastry dough, thawed if frozen.
– all-purpose flour, for dusting.
– scant ½ cup superfine sugar.
– 2 pounds 10 ounces pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into large wedges.
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter.
– 1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped, plus ½ red chili, cut into strips, to serve (optional).
– ½ lemongrass stalk, bruised and halved lengthwise.
Step 2: Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F. Melt the sugar slowly in the tatin pan over medium heat until it turns golden brown. Add the pineapple and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pineapple to a plate and leave to rest 5 to 8 minutes to release the juice.
Step 3: Stir the butter into the sugar in the pan. Sprinkle one-third of the chopped chili over the pan. Put the pineapple wedges tightly around the edge of the pan in a circle, then make smaller circles of tightly fitting pineapple within this circle until the bottom is covered and all the pineapple is used. Put the lemongrass on top of the pineapple, add the strips of chili, if you like, and bake 30 minutes.
Step 4: Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle another one-third of the chili over the pineapple. Put the dough on top, pushing the edges into the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20 minutes longer, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
Step 5: Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool a few minutes. Put an upside-down plate, slightly larger than the pan, on top of the tart and, holding both the plate and pan, turn the pan over to transfer the tart to the plate, right side up. Sprinkle with the remaining chili, if you like. Serve warm, removing the lemongrass and chili strips before cutting into portions.