I buy pineapples with the best of intentions. I love pineapple, I know I do, yet when it comes to actually prepping it, my brain seems to see it as this mammoth task – akin to cleaning the drains or painting the kitchen – so the pineapple just sits there, shrinking, until it’s on the cusp of turning alcoholic.
When it gets to that stage though, I get way more enthusiastic. A near-alcoholic pineapple, heavy and aromatic and almost inedible, is perfect for cooking with. The kitchen will fill with this heady tropical fug, and when cooked with butter, sugar and a few flavour-boosting spices, the humble pineapple that was so close to a fate on the compost heap, is destined for heavenly heights.
I played around with a base recipe for tarte tatin in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (a firm favourite of mine these days), and came up with the recipe below, which uses a dash of Balvenie 14 year old to bring out those tropical vibes.
This particular Balvenie has been finished in Caribbean rum casks so has a really lovely gentle ginger and passionfruity note to it; it’s currently my favourite whisky (and was one I bought for myself as a Christmas present). It is expensive though, so if you prefer, you can just use any other whisky – ideally Speyside.
I’m not remotely precious about whether you use homemade or shop-bought pastry – this recipe uses shop-bought but it doesn’t matter a dot. If you did want to make your own sweet shortcrust pastry, there’s a recipe here which is really bloody good, if I say so myself.
Serve with cold whipped cream, clotted cream or a glug of garish yellow shop-bought custard. It’ll brighten up that winter’s evening, I promise.
Tropical Tarte Tatin with a wee nip of Scotch
1 small pineapple that’s on the brink of being thrown out, diced into bitesize chunks
About 100g demerara sugar
75g soft unsalted butter, 50g melted, 25g kept back
A dash of Balvenie 14 year old, if you have it (a different Speyside whisky, or a softer blend, would also be fine)
A big pinch of ground ginger
A tiny (I mean really tiny) pinch of cinnamon
A small handful of mixed nuts (optional)
200g shortcrust pastry
- Preheat the oven to 180
- Use the soft (not melted) butter to thoroughly grease the base and sides of a 23cm baking dish or tin (I use one half of a Victoria sponge tin, but not one with a loose bottom, or it’ll leak)
- Toss the pineapple in three quarters of the sugar with the spices and a dash of whisky. Set aside
- Melt the butter in a pan, if you haven’t already.
- Roll the pastry out into a circle-ish shape that’s roughly the size of the base of the tin.
- Layer the pineapple in the base of the tin – try and get it to tessellate all in one layer, if you can.
- Pour over the melted butter, and sprinkle over the rest of the sugar. Scatter the nuts over, if you’re using them.
- Layer the pastry over the pineapple, tucking it in around the edges. Pierce the pastry with a few holes, to let the steam out.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then check it – if the pastry is going beyond golden brown, cover with foil. Either way, bake it for another 15 minutes. The tart is ready when you can see the caramel liquid bubbling around the edges of the pastry.
- Remove from the oven, and leave to stand for about 10 minutes.
- Upend on to a plate, and lift the tin away. Scrape any remaining caramel from the bottom of the tin, and serve warm.