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Pineapple Almond Cheesecakes With Caramelized Pineapple

We all know the phrase "when life throws you lemons make lemonade" and while I am not going to tell you that when life throws you pineapples you should made pineapple-ade, I do have admit that our kitchen counter tops did look like they were sprouting pineapples like mad this past week.

It started when Sunny, my wonderful produce guy cornered me near the okra "Hey! It’s been a while since I saw pineapples on your blog!" Oh dear! He read the bits about himself then…maybe I should make him sound like he is Mark Wahlberg’s perfect look alike?….Hugh, I digress…"Hmm, I did sorbet once at the very beginning…." He then pushed 3 perfect little pineapples down in my cart "Well then, that’s settled! These should give you some materials to bake with!" I already had my hands full with baking this week, so I was unsure if I would get to them in time, but given that pineapples are the symbol of hospitality and good wishes, I could not refuse. You don’t have to be anywhere special to see this exotic fruit on door bells, gates, napkins, calendars, jewelry, license plates. The South loves pineapples allright!

I know, I know…three pineapples are nothing to write home about and not enough to make pineapple-ade or be all hung up about. If only it had ended there! The very same day, my lovely neighbor C. dropped off a couple of pineapples because "they were on sale and we all know I can’t bake but you can!". Two days later it was my mother in law who loves to shop huge discount stores and brought me three more. Let’s pause a second: so far we have 8 pineapples..which is getting out there but still manageable…somewhat! Thursday, as I was leaving the catering kitchen, the produce delivery guy stopped by and after I signed the invoice, I saw him walking towards me with a pineapple in each hand. I started heading towards my car but he yelled "Hey! These fell off to the back during the trip, and I can’t figure out which box they’re from. Why don’t you take them?" Before I could even say "no, thank you", there I was holding the fruits like a couple of newborn babies.

I was started to think that my Chinese fortune cookie from Sunday dinner reading "Go with the flow" was definitely coming true. Now I had a whole counter of the kitchen dedicated to pineapples…We went the easy routes first and juiced a couple which brought the number back down to eight. I made a quick ambrosia with one and took it to my mother-in-law’s book club; it is the ladies' favorite and all were happy. That night I made a fruit salad and stewed pineapples for crepes…down to six. What next? Jam! That would knock down a couple,easy…! Then one for a special verrine for Old Chef and one for these cheesecakes…and now I have the more reasonable two pineapples on the counter. Gee! That reminded me of the time the Exec. Chef kept ordering case after case of pears like they were going out of production!

We had the cheesecakes Saturday night at the end of a casual dinner (charcuterie, cheese, bread, salad and wine) shared with another couple. I used ground almonds in the crust as well as ginger cookie crumbs and since I have tonka beans stored in the fridge I grated one in the batter to impart that bitter almond taste that I love so much. Before I get emails and comments about these: yes, I am aware that they contain coumarin which is a blood thinner but I will say that you have the option of using almond extract if you are worried about this. I am no kamikaze either but I figure that one grated bean divided among four cheesecakes is fine, no to mention that I bake with them once every other month…Be responsible and eat everything in moderation (butter, sugar, oil and tonka beans…).

I used fresh cut pineapple in the batter and I caramelized cut slices of the fruit for the topping, using the pan juices to drizzle on the plate. I wrote the recipe for four 4 inch round cheesecake springform pans, but to change the presentation a bit, I cut each unmolded cheesecake into a square. Feel free to leave them whole (kind of a large portion for one person) or to split them up. You can also make one 8 inch cheesecake with the same amount of batter if you want. Since he kitchen looked more like a pineapple field this past week, I am sending this entry to Cookthink Root Source Challenge #2.

Pineapple Almond Cheesecakes With Caramelized Pineapple:

Makes four 4 inch round cakes (springform pans)

24 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tonka bean, grated or 2 tsp. almond extract
1 Tb lemon zest
1 cup diced fresh pineapple (you can sub canned if you want)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (or ginger cookies crumbled up to make 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup ground almonds (also called almond meal, almond powder, almond flour)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 slices pineapples
1/3 sugar
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs,almonds, sugar and the melted butter. Divide among 4 mini springform pans lined with parchment paper and pat with your fingers until evenly distributed. Bake 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 300F.
In a large bowl, with the stand mixer or hand held one, mix the cream cheese and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add the tonka bean or almond extract, and the lemon zest. Fold in the diced pineapple. Divide between the springform pans. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until they wiggle just a tiny bit in the middle. They will set more after an overnight trip in the fridge. When ready to serve, run a hot knife on the inside of the pan and release the cheesecakes.
For the caramelized pineapple: in a large saute pan, melt the sugar over medium high heat until it starts to get a nice amber tone, add the butter, whisk to incorporate and add the pineapple slices. Let them cook 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and place them on top of the cheesecakes. Use the pan sauce to serve with the cheesecakes if desired.

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Cannelle Et Vanille February 25, 2008 um 8:38 pm

Hi Helen- Beautiful pineapple dessert! And your photos are looking very, very fabulous too!By the way, I tagged you for a meme in my last post. I’m sure you have been tagged before because you have such a large audience but I’ve never read anything personal about you so I did it anyway. I hope you don’t mind!

Jessy and her dog Winnie February 25, 2008 um 8:48 pm

Really pretty presentation! I love anything pineapple.

Anonymous February 25, 2008 um 8:59 pm

When it rains pineapples it pours 😉 You have a funny produce guy.

Love the flower look of the caramelized slices.

Anonymous February 25, 2008 um 9:00 pm

Beautiful photos again, as usual!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven February 25, 2008 um 9:15 pm

You don’t see too many pineapple dessert around, this looks gorgeous, am a big fan of pineapple yogart and this is the next delicius step!! YUM!

Anonymous February 25, 2008 um 9:20 pm

Il me fait penser à un cheesecake que j’ai fait, oh quel rêve ! J’aimerais une part !

LyB February 25, 2008 um 9:39 pm

"Like a couple of newborn babies", funny! I can’t even imagine what I would’ve done with so many pineapples, you’re a very resourceful chef, everything sounds so delicious!

Lesley February 25, 2008 um 10:07 pm

That looks good! Very pretty. How do you do it? All these desserts, it must be so fun to live with you!

Deborah February 25, 2008 um 10:14 pm

I’m amazed that you made it through all of the pineapples! I would have been giving some away, I’m sure. These look so beautiful, and sound delicious as well!

Gloria Baker February 25, 2008 um 10:47 pm

Very nice cheesecakes looks so nice and yummy!!! Gloria

Veron February 25, 2008 um 10:58 pm

I – want – cheesecake! You need to find a way to ship those beauties!

Aimée February 26, 2008 um 2:09 am

Hilarious story, Helen. Too funny how all those pineapples made their way into your kitchen!
Yay for tonka beans!! I can’t do without them and am glad that you are helping educate people about them.

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict….You Decide February 26, 2008 um 2:13 am

Look divine….we go through pineapples like crazy here. I have heard of tonka trucks but never tonka beans…..WHAT?? Is it possible I have been living under a rock???? apparently so….google search "tonka beans" is next on my list of things to do!!!

Cakespy February 26, 2008 um 2:17 am

Pineapple kind of sounds like sunshine to this pasty Seattleite right now! And yes, cheesecake makes EVERYTHING better!

Brilynn February 26, 2008 um 2:28 am

I wish somehow would gift me some pineapples! That caramelized pineapple on top looks sooo good! But then again, so does everything you create!

Melita February 26, 2008 um 2:34 am

Looks great! Yummy! Now I must comb through your entire blog 🙂

Anonymous February 26, 2008 um 2:51 am

Good Gracious that’s a lot of pineapples! And a really beautiful dessert too!

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict….You Decide February 26, 2008 um 2:51 am

according to wikipedia you can smoke those tonka beans…..say, where can I get my hands on some of those puppies???? *evil laugh*

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) February 26, 2008 um 3:06 am

Beautiful — and I love the pineapple slices arranged on top!

Jaime February 26, 2008 um 3:17 am

i LOVE pineapples! this is such a beautiful dessert. i think it’s cute that your produce guy reads your blog 🙂

Ben February 26, 2008 um 3:18 am

Oh my! Cheesecake is good in any way, form and taste. This is a winner in my list!

Big Boys Oven February 26, 2008 um 3:59 am

This is truely heaven! you had melted me babe!

Manggy February 26, 2008 um 5:38 am

Lovely! Thanks for this.. I always think there’s not enough pineapple desserts going around! It’s just so delightfully sweet and refreshing, even in a cheesecake! 🙂

Susan @ SGCC February 26, 2008 um 6:11 am

Helene-Lol! I guess when it rains, it pours at your house too! I would have been in pineapple heaven. I love them. When I was pregnant, that was the only thing I craved. I could eat a whole pineapple in one sitting! I sure would have loved one of those beautiful cheesecakes! They’re lovely.

SteamyKitchen February 26, 2008 um 6:41 am

Mark Wahlberg’s perfect look alike? He can feed me pineapples any day.

Bron February 26, 2008 um 7:35 am

Wow! – at first glimpse I was floored Helene. I really love the flavours and warm colours in this, not to mention your styling – super!
Fun story too!

Peabody February 26, 2008 um 9:14 am

Ah my less evil twin, I see we are once again on the same wave length. It was pineapple week apparently.
Lovely, I love the caramelized pineapple.

Meeta K. Wolff February 26, 2008 um 9:45 am

Gorgeous gorgeous! I love guys like your Mark Wahlberg lookalike – I have one who is always giving me fruit at the Market but unfortunately he is far from the Mark Wahlberg type. I like this and the caramelized pineapples are the cherry on the cake – I mean the pineapple of the cake of course.

Marianna February 26, 2008 um 12:32 pm

Wow, this looks gorgeous! I spotted the same dessert in Cyril Lignac’s cooking magazine and it looks very tempting to make, even more on your blog! 🙂

MyKitchenInHalfCups February 26, 2008 um 2:23 pm

The cheese cake makes me smile:)
But, it’s your counting that makes me really smile!
Oh, the recipe card is at the ready today!

Katie February 26, 2008 um 2:59 pm

The caramalised pineapple on top looks like a lovely golden sun. Just beautiful

Warda February 26, 2008 um 7:05 pm

– Could you send me your Sunny, you mother-in-law, you neighbor,and your delivery guy to my place. Lucky you! And lucky them to have you as well! The cheesecake looks AMAZING! I have never seen Tonka beans before; how do they taste like?

Cheryl February 26, 2008 um 7:05 pm

I don’t think I have ever even seen that many pineapples in the store. How do you find the time to make all this stuff with the pineapples. Beautiful cheesecakes!

Cookie baker Lynn February 26, 2008 um 8:17 pm

Wow, that’s a LOT of pineapple! Good job working through it coming up with so many delicious variations on the pineapple theme.

Anonymous February 26, 2008 um 8:35 pm

gorgeous, lovely and so appetizing 🙂
I loooove your cheesecakes !!!!

Tempered Woman February 26, 2008 um 9:15 pm

Wow~ I absolutely love the caramelized pineapple on top. They sure is purty!
I don’t use a lot of pineapple so I think you managed to make more pinapple dishes in a short time than I have in a lifetime~ I love the creativity!

Jenny February 26, 2008 um 10:40 pm

Can you say Pineapple upside down cake? That is what the tops of your cheesecakes remind me of, and what I think I will go throw together right now! (Cause I wasn’t planning on dessert tonight but now I need to have some.)

jasmine February 27, 2008 um 2:43 am

How tasty (and pretty). Loved the story about your pineapple accumulation.

I must admit I’ve gotten a bit snobby about my pineapples….Four years ago I went back to India, and ate very fresh, very sweet, perfectly ripened pineapple, from family lands. Unfortunately, nothing we get up here even comes close.


Elly February 27, 2008 um 4:11 am

:::faints::: this.looks.amazing!

Susan @ SGCC February 27, 2008 um 5:24 am

Helene- Come visit me. I have a little surprise for you.

aforkfulofspaghetti February 27, 2008 um 12:20 pm

Beautiful – even though I’m not a great fan of pineapple!

Stella February 27, 2008 um 2:19 pm

Woah! I’m so impressed- by the dessert & the presentation!

Katie February 27, 2008 um 7:34 pm

Looks Fantastic! Love the caramelized slices.

cb February 28, 2008 um 7:48 pm

Helen: I don’t know how we missed this post, but we did. It looks really delicious. We’ll mention it in our weekend round-up, but we’d also love to publish it at Cookthink (and send you a cookbook).

Anonymous November 27, 2008 um 2:08 am

Good use of all your pineapples. I found your site looking for caramelized pineapple as a way of dealing with extra. Last time I chopped, cooked and froze a bag, but wasn’t all that happy with the result. Perhaps freezing caramelized pineapple? Usually if I really have too much, it’s pineapple wine. We grow lovely "white pineapples" here in Hawaii.

Helene November 27, 2008 um 6:11 am

Claudia: I agree, frozen pineapple is kind of bleh. I fear that freezing them caramelized is not going to help either as the caramelized sugar is going to melt and be runny once they are thawed.
I am curious about pineapple wine! Please do tell!

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