Pineapple Express

I went to the Bahamian island of Eleuthera not long ago and, yadda, yadda, yadda , I had the pineapple tart.

A local specialty, the little pineapple pie exemplifies homemade simplicity: soft pastry crust, lattice top and a sweet pineapple filling unadulterated by extraneous ingredients. It’s tasty and tropical and very humble.  I remember thinking it could be much more. Then I promptly forgot about it.

Until yesterday. Faced with a fresh pineapple on my counter threatening to become 80-proof hooch if I didn’t do something quickly, I considered what the “more” might mean.

The few recipes online for the standard tart, while consistent, aren’t very exciting. A filling of canned pineapple and sugar, boiled? (On a pineapple-growing island? Blasphemy!) Surely a little caramel, maybe a shot of rum and a crispy crust would dress it up a bit.

So I pulled together a basic crostata crust (including a bit of grated Meyer lemon peel—because Meyer lemons were on sale last week). While the dough was chilling, I chopped up the pineapple and sautéed it with brown sugar and a little spiced rum, vanilla and butter. I let it bubble away for about 25 minutes then stirred in a couple tablespoons of flour at the end to thicken the remaining juices.

The rest was easy: Half the dough for the bottom disk, cooled chunky sauce slathered on top. Then the remaining dough cut into strips for the lattice covering. A bit of yellow sugar sprinked over the top was the final innovation. And about 40 minutes later, I had a crispy, very tangy tart that was delicious straight out of the oven (though would have been amazing with a scoop of homemade coconut ice cream.) Next time, I might goose the filling with a little cardamom or ginger, or possibly toast some coconut to go on top. What I won’t do, however, is forget to make it.

NOTE: See our photo in the Los Angeles Times’ “Sugar Rush” section at: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/lat-sugar-rush-your-sweetest-photos-20110331,0,4425492.ugcphotogallery

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