Saturday, March 24, 2012

Caramelized Pinã Colada Parfaits

By the end of winter, I’m ready for a trip to the tropics. Even after a freakishly mild winter such as the one we had this year, I just need a little Calgon-take-me-away time to recover from the days of darkness. Unfortunately, with work deadlines sprouting up like 

crocuses, I barely have time to make it to the grocery store, let alone a Caribbean island. So I compensate by celebrating the flavors of the tropics whenever I can. Coconut, pineapple, mango, banana and passion fruit all find their way into my desserts in winter and early 

spring. Here’s a simple parfait that combines the flavors of one of my favorite drinks, the Pinã Colada. On the bottom is a layer caramelized fresh pineapple, topped with a rich coconut cream, with a layer of crumbled ginger biscuits in between, adding some texture 

and crunch. I like this dessert because it’s so easy to prepare, yet so delicious. It’s a perfect balance of refreshing and rich, a trip to the tropics without the hassle of going through security, or, worse yet, putting on a bathing suit.  

Caramelized Pinã Colada Parfaits

Makes 4 parfaits

Coconut Rum Cream:
1 ¾ cups (one 13.5-oz can) unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup (60 g) whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
2 tablespoons dark rum
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream

Caramelized Pineapple:
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
½ cup (108 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 ¾ cups fresh pineapple cubes (1/2-inch)
1 tablespoon dark rum

1 ¼ cups broken pieces of Walkers Stem Ginger Biscuits (about 5 biscuits) or gingersnaps
Toasted coconut (6 minutes at 350 degrees F.)
Pineapple chips

Make the Coconut Cream:
1. Put the coconut milk and whole milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture, then return the yolk mixture to the milk remaining in the saucepan, whisking to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from the heat and pour into a medium stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and let stand, whisking occasionally, until chilled. Whisk the cream vigorously until very smooth.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream at high speed to soft peaks. Fold one-third of the cream into the chilled coconut cream. Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the Caramelized Pineapple:
3. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the pineapple cubes. Sprinkle the sugar over the pineapple and cook over medium-high heat, stirring or tossing frequently, until the sugar caramelizes and the pineapple is slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pineapple to a bowl. Add the rum to the remaining caramel mixture in the skillet and cook for a minute or 2 until the mixture thickens. Pour the liquid over the pineapple and cool.

Assemble the parfaits:
4. Spoon about ¼ of the Caramelized Pineapple into the bottom of a serving glass. Spoon some of the liquid on top. Top with a layer of broken ginger cookies, then top with ¼ of the Coconut Cream. Garnish with the toasted coconut and a pineapple chip. Repeat to make 4 parfaits. The parfaits can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 hour before serving.