I am, by nature, a planner. A visit to my kitchen would prove the point: a fully inked-in white board calendar, a bulletin board pinned with every school/activity/holiday schedule, and several post-it notes scattered around the inside doors of cupboards. I like to be prepared.
But life, especially with children, can be far from predictable. After shopping, planning, and cooking for my oldest son's upcoming birthday party, weeks of planning went down the tubes when both boys contracted fevers, chills, and nausea. Doh! A last minute cancellation left us with disappointed kids and enough food to feed an army.
Most of it was easily managed: unfrosted cake layers went to the deep freezer for another day. The veggie tray and appetizers served as a quick dinner.... Still, I was up to my eyeballs in fresh fruit. What do you do with not one, but two, pineapples?! Well, if life hands you pineapples, make it into a blog post!
I used this sweet tropical fruit in a lovely light dessert dish: Pineapple Caramel Crepes. Classic crepes join lightly caramelized pineapple slices in a delicious brown sugar caramel sauce. Oh yes, this is what to do if you happen to have a spare pineapple hanging around! Serve as a decadent brunch or dessert (with or without the rum. I did with!). I learned that sometimes the best recipes can come from the least amount of planning!
Pineapple Caramel Crepes
makes 4 servings
original crepe batter recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 whole milk
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons quality rum (optional, but delicious!)
1 cup of flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted
In the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, add the water, milk, eggs, rum, flour, and butter in that order. Using the whisk attachment (or hand mixer), mix the batter on medium-high for 1 minute. You may want to use the plastic splash guard, it can get a little messy!
After 1 minute, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Mix for several seconds more, until smooth.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. You can also prepare the batter the night before.
Heat a small skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, melt a small bit of butter (1/4 teaspoon or just swipe the stick several times in the hot pan). Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop 1/4 cup of batter and slowly poor into the center of the pan, while holding the pan above, not on, the burner. Slowly swirl the batter around the hot pan, until the liquid semi-sets. Return the pan to the heat.
Cook for 90 seconds, gently wiggle the crepe to loosen, and using a spatula or your fingers (be careful!!!!!) flip the crepe to the other side. Cook for another 30 seconds and then slide onto a piece of wax paper or cutting board.
Repeat until you have 12 crepes. You can stack the crepes to keep warm.
Note: the first crepe is often a 'tester', to determine the correct cooking temperature. Don't worry if it doesn't come out the prettiest!
Pineapple Caramel Sauce
Note: it is best to prepare this sauce just before frying up the crepes.
1 medium ripe pineapple
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons cold butter + 1 tablespoon for caramelizing
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons quality rum (optional)
Trim your pineapple top, bottom, and sides. Cut in half vertically and slice the fruit into 1/2 inches slices. Remove the core with a spoon or sharp paring knife.
Using a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Once foaming, add several slices of pineapple to soften and gently caramelize. Cook for about 3 minutes, flip, and repeat on the other side. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining slices.
Heat a clean medium saucepan or large skillet, over medium-high heat. Dump the brown sugar into the pan and, using a whisk, stir until the sugar melts to a viscous liquid. Don't be nervous!
Add the butter all at once, and continue to whisk until completely melted. It will splutter, so be careful! The caramel will look loose and a bit clumpy at this stage - but don't worry!
Remove from the heat and whisk in the rum and cream.
Return to the heat and continue whisking, and heating, until the caramel becomes smooth.
Adjust the heat to low, and add the pineapple slices. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then put aside.
Take one crepe and fold in half, and then in half again, making a triangle. Place on your plate. Next, add a slice of pineapple. Repeat until you have three crepes and three pineapple slices per serving. Take a generous spoonful (or three) of caramel, and drizzle over the crepes. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.