Pineapple, Meringue & Summer
90 degree days (30 for you metrics), the sun out until 9pm, hordes of people by the lake here in Zürich – there aren’t many signs that the end of summer is near. And thank goodness. I’ll keep returning to the market, filling up my basket with berries and the seasonal fruits we wait for all year long. Back in the kitchen, I haven’t quite sworn off chocolate desserts, but there’s more often a fruit tart or crumble coming out of the oven, and a new jar of jam cooling off on the window sill. There is one very simple dessert that I have made several times this summer, showcasing a different fruit each time. It’s basically a fruit compote topped by soft baked meringue. A dessert that is easy and requires few ingredients, yet looks rather impressive. Not to mention, tastes delicious!
I made compotes using plums, red berries and rhubarb – each worked great with the meringue on top. This time though, I couldn’t resist the Extra Süss Ananas at the market – extra sweet pineapple. So a pineapple compote it was. I cooked the fruit down with a whole vanilla bean and let it steep. The flavor was intense, and the pillow of meringue, not overly sweet, toned it down perfectly.
This is a great dessert to make with any fruit that’s lying around on your counter. Throw some plums in the oven or cook down a mix of berries on the stove. It’s perfect for occasions when you want a nice dessert for one, but don’t exactly want to bake a whole cake for yourself. Spoon some compote into a baking dish (store bought is just fine too) and as long as you have 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of sugar, you’ve got a gourmet dessert at the ready!
Pineapple Compote Topped with Baked Meringue
For 4 individual desserts
1 whole pineapple, ripe, about 2 pounds (1 kilo)
2/3 cups (150 grams) sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 egg whites, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Chop the pineapple into small pieces. Put in a large pot and add the sugar. Start to cook at medium heat. Slice the vanilla bean vertically and remove the seeds with the tip of a knife. Add the seeds and the bean the pot. Cook down the fruit (uncovered) until it starts to take on the consistency of a jam/compote, about a half an hour. Remove the vanilla bean.
Whisk the egg whites until they are foamy. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until the meringue holds semi-stiff peaks. Evenly distribute the pineapple compote among individual baking dishes*. Spoon meringue on top. Bake for 5-7 minutes.
* Clear glass ramekins make for the best presentation. Otherwise, your diners will be in for a surprise as to what is underneath the meringue!