We are a big fan of pineapples and love this time of year when they are in season. It is a fruit with a rich history. In the 17th century it was marvelled at as an exotic sign of conquering new worlds and became a symbol of the wealthy and elite in society. Pineapples were grown in hot houses, tended by pineapple boys who spent their lives stoking fires to keep the warm humid atmosphere that mimicked the tropics.

Such a sweet and juicy fruit is wonderful eaten simply on its own or in a decadent dessert such as this one. In this recipe we decided to revisit a classic, the lemon meringue tart, exchanging the lemon curd with a tart and tropical pineapple curd.

Pineapple Meringue Tart Recipe
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Pineapple Curd

1/2 a fresh pineapple, peeled and de-cored, chopped finely
1 cup sugar
1 + 1/2   cups water
4 level tablespoons plain flour
4 level tablespoons corn flour
2 teaspoons lime zest*
3/4  cup lime juice*
90g butter
4 egg yolks
*use lemon zest and juice if you don’t have limes

Pate Sucree

3 cups plain flour
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
2 large egg yolks, cold

Italian Meringue

4 large free range egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup or 80mls water
1 1/4 cups or 290 grams of caster sugar

Method
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Pineapple Curd

In a large saucepan cook the pineapple and sugar in the water until soft. Mix the flours with enough water to make  a smooth paste and whisk into the cooked pineapple with the zest and juice. Bring to the boil for a couple of minutes and whisk. Turn off the heat and add the butter and then the egg yolks and whisk in well. Cool before adding to the pie crust.

Pate Sucree

First slice your butter fairly thin or grate it and place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.

Mix the flour and salt together lightly and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Add the flour and butter and either work the butter through the flour with your finger tips, rubbing until mealy or do this quickly in a food processor. Add the Sugar and mix thoroughly. In a small bowl, beat the Egg yolks together then add and mix until the dough holds. It is important to knead the dough then, without flour on the surface, until it becomes smooth using a scraper if necessary. This pastry must be plastic wrapped and chilled for at least 1 hour before use. Grease a 25cm tart tin, or small tart tins with a removable base, or you can use a muffin tin if this is all you have. Roll out dough to an inch larger than your tart tin and lower pastry into the tin. Press gently into the sides and cut excess pastry off edges of tin (for deep muffin tins, the pastry can come halfway up the side of the tin).

Preheat oven to 190degrees celcius. Tear off a piece of baking paper and place on top of the pastry. Place some dried beans or rice on top of the paper to act as a weight and ensure the pastry does not rise while cooking. Bake in oven for 12minutes, remove paper and beans and prick pastry a few times with a fork. Return to oven until cooked, about 5 – 8 minutes longer. Allow pastry to cool.

Italian Meringue

Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves then boil for 8 more minutes without stirring. Meanwhile beat the egg whites to peaks in a mixer or with electric beaters and then add the tartar. When the sugar syrup is ready, pour it slowly into the egg whites, mixing as you go and continue to beat allowing the beaters to run until the mixture cools to a touchable heat.

Assembling your Tart

Spread the Pineapple curd on the bottom of the pastry, filling up until about 1cm from the top. Spread Italian Meringue over the top of the curd and use the back of a fork to make small peaks. Use a cooking blowtorch or put your tart under the griller for a few minutes until the meringue is slightly browned.

Serves 8.

Notes: The Pineapple curd will be more textured than lemon curd due to the fibres in the fruit. If you wish to prepare your tart in advance, you can prepare all three components the day before and assemble on the day. Italian Meringue can keep in fridge for 3-4 days and because the hot sugar cooks the egg whites, it does not need to be browned, this is just for appearance sake.

Tips and tricks for Pastry making:

Pate Sucree is rolled after chilling on a well floured board and roller. It will break up but don’t worry, just get it rolled if you can a bit at a time, flouring as you go. Lift pieces with a pallete knife and just push them together around the mould. It is so buttery its like soft play dough or fudge so when you push edges and bits together they make a solid shell and they cook buttery and tender. Other pastries types, with less butter, may not seem to have enough ‘wet’ to bring them together. That’s because keeping pastry as dry as possible gives a shorter, richer result and if you live in a very dry climate or are making pastry in the hot dry Australian summer, like us, you will find your flour is drier and therefore lighter than the recipe inventors was. Just add an extra teaspoon or two of cold water to the egg yolk and be grateful you’re not baking in a damp, underground cellared, French kitchen of the 1700’s where most of these recipes were developed. Keep everything cold for the best pastry. You can even freeze the butter and grate it before mixing with the flour. Work quickly and don’t overwork the dough once the egg goes in. Moisture triggers gluten to begin forming and the more gluten the tougher the pastry. Pastry must be cooked at high temperature initially (or without a filling as in ‘cooking’ blind’). This is so the starch can get hot enough to absorb the water quickly from the gluten, to dry and set the crust quickly. Slow cooking (or wet fillings on uncooked pastry) will melt the fat before this process happens and result in a soggy, oily, porous pastry with a slumping protein starch network. Read more about Pastry here.

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