The early 2000s were a delicious bunch of years as far as I’m concerned. I’m speaking of course of the Food & Drink publication freely available through the LCBO here in Ontario. As I’ve mentioned before, each issue is chock full of annoying ads, yes, but also full of really delicious and well thought-out recipes. So it didn’t surprise me much when I paired two of their delicious recipes (printed in 2001 and 2003), and found they complemented each other really well. So I present today my tweaked versions of both recipes in one post, even though you’re encouraged to try both on their own or with your favourite vegan ice “cream”.
Let’s throw on some Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child or 50 Cent to bring us back to the early 2000s (they all had top-3 hits for those years), and off we go. Side note: honestly, I can’t believe 2001-2003 was over a decade ago (well, more or less). Where does the time go? Ponder than while you stuff your face with cake and ooey-gooey pineapple.
Let’s get the pineapple going first, since it will preheat the oven for the cake.
Whole Vanilla Roasted Pineapple ingredients:
- 1 pineapple, peeled
- 1 large vanilla bean or 1 tbsp of Madagascar bourbon paste
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup “butter” (you can use slightly less and still have terrific results)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Make sure all the eyes and other brown bits have been removed from the pineapple. Decide how you want to present it: either roasted whole, which will allow you to carve it at the table in a rather spectacular and dramatic fashion, or more functionally cut in half and cored. If you want to roast it whole, cut small channels into the sides, following the positions of the eyes (removing them in the process). This will give your pineapple a nice “spirally” look. If you’re more interested in cutting it up behind the scenes, cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, remove the fibrous core, then add a bunch of crosswise cuts about half an inch into the fruit. These “flaps” will fan out as the pineapple cooks, and will allow more syrup to soak into the fruit.
If you’re working with a whole vanilla bean, cut it lengthwise in half, then half again so you end up with quarters. Then cut each quarter into 1-inch sections. Stick these pieces into your pineapple so that the fruit is covered more or less evenly. If you’re working with vanilla paste, just dig in and smear it all over the pineapple. Set it aside for a moment.
In a cast iron skillet (or any other stove- and oven-safe baking dish), heat the water, sugar and butter, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the syrup to a boil, then add the pineapple. Baste it with the syrup, then pop it in the oven for about an hour, basting every 10-15 minutes or so.
While that’s in the oven, start working on your cake.
Coffee Syrup Hazelnut Cake ingredients:
- 3/4 cup organic sugar cane
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup corn syrup (I know, I know, it’s the devil, but it works great in this cake. Use agave if you’d rather, though I’d use a little less than 1/2 a cup)
- 1/2 cup strong hot coffee
- 1/2 cup “butter” at room temperature (I didn’t worry so much about this since it will heat up as you whip it)
- 3/4 cup organic sugar cane (not a typo, you need this amount twice)
- the equivalent of 2 eggs (so 1 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp warm water OR 1 tsp ground flax + 2 tbsp warm water)
- juice and zest from 1 lemon (about 1.5 tbsp)
- 1 cup hazelnuts, skinned and ground (I just used a food processor to grind up pre-skinned hazelnuts)
- 1.5 cup flour (I haven’t tried this yet, but I would assume that 3/4 cup of coconut flour + 3/4 cup sorghum flour would be an amazing alternative for gluten-free folks)
- 1/3 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup milk (almond, soy, flax or rice are all fine)
First make the coffee syrup that will act as a glaze for the cake. Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup of liquid. Don’t worry if it’s more – that just means there will be more of it to ooze into the cake and make it more deliciously gooey. Stir in the coffee once it’s ready, then set it aside to cool.
Now grab your mixer and beat the “butter” and sugar together at a medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add your “eggs”, one at a time (or half the mixture at a time), beating all the while. Add the lemon juice and zest. Fold in half the ground hazelnuts and half the milk, then repeat until both are fully incorporated. Spoon the batter into a 9-inch spring or cake pan and pop it into your already preheated 325-degree oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (and the sides are golden). Remove from the oven, and poke the entire surface repeatedly with a skewer or knife. Pour the cooled coffee syrup over the cake and set aside until you’re ready to carve the pineapple and serve. I found that the cake soaked up all of the coffee syrup, so the extra drippings from the pineapple was a major bonus, and really tied the two desserts together. Give it a try and judge for yourself! Enjoy.