Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Genoise, Caramelized Pineapple, Coconut Foam

Over the holidays my wife purchased an ISI Whip siphon for me but I haven't gotten around to using my new toy. I finally had some time yesterday, so while we were prepping dinner, we made a coconut foam with a yellow genoise cake and caramelized pineapple to have as dessert. This is a bit of a take on your old-school, pina colada beach umbrella drink.

The coconut foam takes some time to set in the refrigerator, so we started on this first. We used a recipe found on the Molecular Recipes website. It's pretty straightforward and simple, only requiring a can of coconut milk, gelatin, sugar and water.

First, start by dissolving some gelatin powder (half of a Knox brand packet or 3.5 grams) in about a quarter of the coconut milk. Let the powder hydrate in the coconut for a few minutes and while you wait, make a simple syrup by combining a few tablespoons of both water and white granulated sugar on the stove and heating until the sugar is dissolved.

Once the simple syrup begins simmering and small bubbles begin to form around the edges of the pan, add the gelatin mixture to the simple syrup and mix until the gelatin dissolves.

Remove from the mixture from the heat and then add the rest of the coconut milk. Let this cool and then add it to the ISI Whip siphon container. Screw in one N2O cartridge and then store the siphon lying sideways in the refrigerator. The mixture needs at least a few hours for the gelatin to set up - overnight is best.

After preparing the coconut foam, we proceeded to make the yellow genoise cake. Genoise is a French style sponge cake and is different from regular sponge cake in that butter is used. Using butter adds more flavorful to the cake.
We started by whisking 6 eggs and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of our KitchenAid mixer and warming it over a bain marie until warm to the touch. We then put the bowl back onto the stand and whisked the egg and sugar mixture on high for about 5 minutes.
Once the mixture turned very thick ad pale, we transferred it to a large mixing bowl and sifted in 1 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour in three stages, gently folding the flour into the batter each time.
During the third and last addition of flour, we also added in 6 tablespoons of melted butter and a few dashes of pure vanilla extract, which we previously mixed together in a separate small bowl.
Once the butter and vanilla were mixed into the rest of the batter, we poured the batter into a circular spring form pan and baked at 350 degrees F for about 35-40 minutes. Depending on your oven and the pan you use, the cooking time could vary. Keep an eye on your cake and when the cake is golden brown and springy to touch, it's ready.

While the genoise was baking in the oven, we worked on the final step, which was to prepare the pineapple. After trimming off the exterior and needles, we finely diced some pineapple for garnishing and also cut up some pieces into larger chunks for cooking.

To prepare the caramelized pineapple, we sprinkled sugar all over the pineapple chunks and then cooked them in a hot sauté pan over high heat in a few tablespoons of butter. Make sure to shake the pan regularly and keep an eye on the fruit so that it does not burn. You're looking for a nice, deep brown caramel color on the fruit. Towards the end, we deglazed the pan with a splash of Caribbean rum to continue with the whole pina colada theme.

After we finished dinner, we plated up some dessert using all the different components we previously prepared. This involved cutting up a few small pieces of the genoise cake, placing some caramelized pineapple over them, scattering some of the diced raw pineapple around the plate, and finishing with some mounds of the coconut foam. Overall, this was a nice dessert with familiar flavors although I think the coconut foam could have been sweeter.


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