Pineapple is one of those fruits I want to like, but I just can’t get past the texture. A bit like banana. I love pineapple flavoured desserts and sweets, but I am not partial to biting into a slice of pineapple. I don’t find the crunchiness appealing at all. This quirk however gets me craving pineapple cake, namely pineapple flavoured cheesecake. By pureeing the pineapple I won’t have to bite into it. Problem solved.
My no-bake strawberry cheesecake is one of my most searched and viewed recipes, I think the ‘no-bake’ thing is a winner. If I was to make this pineapple version as a large cake I would have to add jelly to help it set, but being individuals I decided I’d love it if they were on the soft and creamy side. Digging a spoon into the dish to come out with a layer of buttered granita (I’m convinced there is no better tasting base), an explosion of pineapple infused with a hint of coconut amid a bubble of cream, to be topped off with crunchy coconut shavings is truly blissful. Now that is how I like to eat pineapple. I had the idea of the cake being more of mousse-like texture than a set jelly type cake, and as individuals it really works.
The first time I tried this recipe, I watched the cheesecakes sitting in the fridge overnight with anticipation, eager to taste the creamy pineapple filling and granita base. The next day I eagerly pulled them out of the fridge and started to take photos. Once the photos were done I handed my recipe tester (husband) a glass and we dug in with our spoons, took the first taste and just looked at one another. Bitter. Not having used pineapple in cake before I set about researching what the hell had made these gorgeous little desserts so bitter!
Now I am not talking tangy, I like tangy. And I actually think cheesecake should be slightly tangy. This was bitterness that overpowered the delicious creamy centre with a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth bitterness. Bugger.
Apparently, so I read later online, fresh pineapple has an enzyme that either a) becomes bitter when added raw to cream or b) becomes bitter when left too long. Since this cake was mostly cream and raw AND was left to sit overnight, I had no idea which reason was the most accurate. So before I declared defeat by pineapple I decided to try the recipe again, this time adding more coconut cream for sweetness, heating the pineapple first and eating them stat. No waiting overnight this time. Fine by me.
As I combined all the ingredients at the end I sampled the filling, it was deliciously creamy, sweet with a slight hint of tang with zero bitterness. Perfect. If they turned bitter after 3 hours I was going to recommend using tinned pineapple. I don’t know about you but I avoid tinned fruit if possible. Fortunately they turned out beautifully, however if you’re not partial to fresh pineapple then you can use the tinned stuff. We did try them 12 hours later as well and they were still delicious without a hint of bitterness, so I suspect heating the pineapple prior to adding it to the cream did the trick.
(makes 4-6 depending on size of glasses – I made 4 with 260ml whisky glasses)
125g Granita biscuits, blend to crumbs
50g unsalted butter, melted
300ml whipping cream
250g light cream cheese, softened
50g caster sugar
200g fresh pineapple, pureed
½ cup coconut cream (not coconut milk, it’s too watery and not sweet enough)
2 tsp vanilla essence
¼ cup coconut shavings, toasted*
Combine biscuit crumbs and butter well, press firmly into base of dishes. Place into fridge while making the filling.
Whip cream to medium stiffness (mousse-like texture) and chill.
In another bowl combine cream cheese and sugar together until smooth and creamy.
Heat pureed pineapple in a small saucepan for a few minutes. I don’t know if heating the pineapple actually helped make the cheesecake less bitter but it worked, so I wouldn’t skip this step. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
Pour pureed pineapple, coconut cream and vanilla essence into cream cheese and sugar mixture, fold in whipped cream until well combined.
Pour or pipe into glasses on top of chilled base and chill in the fridge for 3 hours until set.
Decorate with toasted coconut shavings and pineapple pieces.
*To toast coconut shavings simple place in frying pan over medium heat and stir until golden. Cool.
If you have the answers to why pineapple made my first cakes bitter, please let me know. I saw recipes online that called for fresh pineapple in no-bake versions which did not offer tips on how to avoid bitterness, so I am not sure if it is a common thing.