Grilled pineapple is delicious: sweet, slightly acid, and full of the richness of caramel. For the blogging event TGRWT I tried matching it with sweet gorgonzola using chocolate and caramelized sugar for decoration and extra flavors. The tenth TGRWT is being hosted by David from Eat Foo. The idea of TGRWT is to combine two ingredients that share a few chemical compounds that can be smelt and it was started by Martin from Khymos.
This recipe was a good excuse for me to learn several new skills: how to temper chocolate, how to make butterscotch candy, and how to use a pastry bag.
The recipe requires making the caramelized sugar, preparing the chocolate so it can be poured over the pineapple, and finally assembling the dish with some cheese. For one serving you will need
- 1 teaspoon of caramelized sugar (recipe below)
- 1 thin slice of pineapple
- sweet gorgonzola cheese
- 100g of semisweet chocolate, tempered (enough for six slices)
Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Make sure the grate of the grill is clean and then pre-heat the grill.
While the grill is heating, peel the pineapple. Remove the crown by twisting, place the pineapple on its side and remove a slice from the bottom and a slice from the top. Stand the pineapple and remove the skin and then check it once more for any eyes that may have been missed. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut thin 1⁄2 inch slices.
Set the grill to a slow cooking mode. On my gas grill that is the lowest gas setting; on a charcoal grill make sure the grate is far enough from the coals, as if you were cooking fish. Place the pineapple slices on the grill and let them caramelize on one side before flipping, about seven minutes. Keep the grill cover and if you have a way of checking the internal temperature, it should be above 175°C (350°F).
Once the slices are done, spread a thin layer of gorgonzola on the pineapple, sprinkle some caramelized sugar on the cheese and flip, cheese side down, onto a quarter plate.
- Decorate with chocolate by squeezing warm tempered chocolate from a pastry bag. Sprinkle some more sugar on the plate.
I noticed that people like or dislike the flavor combination depending on whether they like or dislike blue cheese. The first time I made this (the result in the first photo of the post) I used too much blue cheese. The peppery taste of the cheese just overwhelmed the sweet and juicy notes of the pineapple. I would either taste pineapple or cheese, but not both. In my second attempt I used a thin layer of gorgonzola, as if one where spreading butter on toast. This time one could detect the fat of the cheese combining with the pineapple and the result was eaten before it could be photographed.
The idea for caramel sugar is to make a butterscotch hard candy and then grind the candy in a spice grinder. I am not an expert candy maker, but I was able to make this candy by using an instant read thermometer (the “laser” or infrared type).
You will need:
- 120g of white sugar (about 1⁄2 cup and two tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 30g (2 tablespoons) of cold butter
- 1⁄8 teaspoon of salt
Place a pan on the stove top on medium high. If possible, use a stainless steel pan or any other pan with a light colored inside, as that will help you judge the color of the sugar after it melts. Pour the sugar, salt, water, and lemon juice in the pan. Mix until the sugar is well dissolved and then stop mixing.
Watch the temperature of the liquid carefully. While it warms, clean any sugar that may have stuck to the sides of the pan’s wall with a wet pastry brush. This sugar may brown too much and impart a bitter taste. Once it starts to boil there is no need to stir.
Heat the pan until the liquid reaches 160°C (320°F) but don’t let it go above 170°C (338°F) or it will turn bitter. Below 160°C the temperature tells you how much water is left in the sugar, above that temperature how brown the liquid sugar has turned. Remove from the heat and immediately add the butter, as this will stop the sugar from continuing to cook.
Whisk the mixture until all the butter melts. Pour the mixture over a silicone mat and let it cool. You now have butterscotch candy cooling on your mat.
- Once the candy hardens and is cool enough to handle, you can place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to speed up the cooling process or just let it sit for half an hour on the counter. Break about a third of the candy disk into small bits and place them in a spice grinder. Grind for about 20 seconds to transform it into a powder. Save in the freezer in an airtight container. You may grind the other two-thirds or use them for decoration.