You don't have to leave North Texas to get a taste of the Caribbean. Gretchen Connelie from the new Tommy Bahama restaurant bar and store at Legacy West in Plano joins Good Day to make a fruity crème brulee.
Pineapple Crème Brulee
Pineapple and Filling:
2 ripe pineapples
1/3 cup/65 g packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups/360 ml heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs, plus 6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup/65 g plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
9 tsp granulated sugar
6 fresh strawberries, for garnish
Special Equipment: Butane kitchen torch
To prepare the pineapple shells: Slice off the bottom and crown of leaves from each pineapple. Using scissors, snip off and refrigerate 12 to 18 of the best-looking small pineapple leaves. Cut the pineapples cross-wise into 6 rounds, each about 1 1/2 in/4 cm thick. Do not peel the pineapple rounds. Reserve the remaining pineapple for another use. Cover and refrigerate the pineapple shells until serving.
For each shell, using a small, sharp knife, cut an incision about 1/4 in/6 mm from the edge around the inside circumference of a pineapple round, being sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom. Using a melon baller, scoop out and discard the central core, leaving about 1/4 in/6 mm of fruit on the bottom of the shell. Scoop out the pineapple within the incision, leaving a shell about 1/4 in/6 mm thick. Finely chop the pineapple flesh. You should have 2 cups/380 g. Transfer the chopped pineapple to a medium bowl and stir in the brown sugar.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pineapple mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the juices have evaporated and the pineapple is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Return to the bowl and let cool completely. Stir in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
To make the custard: Bring the heavy cream and vanilla bean halves to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the bean halves into the cream, discarding the bean halves. Whisk the eggs, yolks, and granulated sugar together in a medium heat-proof bowl. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture.Return to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon (your finger should leave a path in the custard) and an instant-read thermometer reads 185ºF/85ºC. Do not boil. Pour the custard through a sieve into a heat-proof bowl. (Stir in the vanilla extract now, if using.) Let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and thickened, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
Divide the pineapple mixture evenly among the pineapple shells, spreading it evenly. Place the rounds on a baking sheet. Spoon equal amounts of the custard into each round and smooth the custard with a small spatula. Cover each with a piece of waxed or parchment paper and refrigerate until serving, at least 1 or up to 4 hours.
To serve: Sprinkle each custard evenly with 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar. Using the torch, wave the flame about 1/2 in/12 mm above the custard to caramelize the sugar. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-in/12-mm fluted tip with the whipped cream. Pipe a large rosette of whipped cream onto each custard and insert 2 or 3 pineapple leaves into each rosette. Garnish each with a straw¬berry. Serve immediately.