I love when you can have one ingredient play the key role in two creations in one night….makes cooking and shopping a little bit easier, but you still want to keep the meal interesting for guests. We had a pineapple in the house the other evening and a dinner for friends who I knew wouldn’t want a super sweet dessert, but I could probably entice with fresh fruit. I am also a big fan of macerated fruit, in anything from balsamic to Cointreau to rum, this time opting to take a bit of a look back in time to a spirit that used to be right in the middle of my wheel house…Malibu Rum. You know, the white bottle of coconut rum with a very low alcohol % (about 21%….keep in mind wine has between 12-15% typically) that transports you to a beach by simply inhaling the aromas. I haven’t mixed a drink with Malibu in many years, but the beauty of liquor is that it won’t go bad, so I chopped the super ripe and juicy pineapple into long strips that would hold together easily on a grill pan and plunged them into a bowl filled with about a cup and a half of rum, enhanced with a bit of fresh mint and let them meld and marry together for a few hours. There were just a few of us that night for dinner and I knew we wouldn’t need the whole pineapple for dessert, so I opted to make aperitif cocktails out of a portion of it and enjoy the rest as dessert. You can either grill the whole pineapple or just what you will have with dessert and keep the cocktail pineapple fresh. I grilled all of it as I like that caramelized, slightly smoky flavor that the grill added to the cocktails. Enjoy!
Malibu Infused Pineapple as a Drink or a Dessert
1 whole pineapple, outer skin removed and core removed, cut into long strips about an inch wide
2 cups Malibu or other coconut flavored rum (I have done this prep with several spirits and Malibu is really the best, but vanilla vodka is also good or another brand of coconut rum)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
crack of black pepper
2 tablespoons butter or non-stick butter spray
For the Dessert:
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
fresh berries for garnish
For the Drinks:
8 ounces Cranberry juice
1 lime, half cut into wedges for garnish, half left in tact
Add the rum to the cut pineapple with the mint and basil, and crack of fresh pepper to a shallow bowl, tossing to coat. Leave at room temp or in the refrigerator for at least an hour to help the rum really infuse into the pineapple.
Meanwhile, chill a mixing bowl to whip the cream. When bowl is very cold add the cream, vanilla and sugar and using a hand-held mixer whip until stiff peaks have formed, about 5 or so minutes…but make sure not to over whip creating butter. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Clean the berries and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
After about an hour heat a grill pan to medium heat, add the butter, ensuring that it melts over the grill grates evenly, then lay the macerated pineapple on the grill pan and cook until grill marks form all over the fruit, turning every minute or so to cook evenly.
Pour the rum the pineapple was soaking in into a blender with the cranberry juice and add the juice of 1/2 lime. When the pineapple has evenly caramelized and is nicely marked place 2/3 of it on a serving platter and add the remaining pineapple to the blender. Blend until very smooth. If you would like the drinks served frozen add 2 cups of ice and process until smooth. If you would prefer them served on the rocks, strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing to get the most juice out and add to four rocks glasses filled with ice, top with club soda if desired. Garnish with a lime.
To serve the pineapple dessert, scatter fresh berries around the grilled pineapple and serve with the whipped cream on the side. Garnish with extra mint, a crack of pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, if desired.