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I love pineapple in most any form, but if I had to pick, I'd say roasted pineapple is my favorite preparation. This week's pie, which is actually a tart, is designed to highlight the sweet, concentrated flavor of roasted pineapple by layering it with a cool, subtle vanilla cream, a crumbly coconut crust, and a layer of crackly brûléed sugar. It's basically an awesome, tropical crème brûlée that's reminiscent of a pina colada, in tart form.
When making this tart, the key part of the process is roasting fresh pineapple, which helps reduce the liquid, concentrate the flavor, and just slightly caramelize the outer edges of the fruit. The pastry cream filling is luscious and creamy, and it takes on a whole new life once it's spread with a thin layer of granulated sugar and brûléed with a torch. It gets just slightly warm and runny, exactly like a crème brûlée. The coconut crust, made with pâte sucrée dough with dried coconut, is the perfect sweet and crumbly container to keep with the tropical theme.
If you're new to working with pâte sucrée and/or pastry cream, I've got you covered. Click on over to these tutorials from Sweet Techniques and use the slideshows (here for pastry cream, here for pâte sucrée) to get yourself started. This tart is at its best if you make all of the components ahead of time and assemble it just before serving.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.