I'd like to reassure you, if you're reading this, that I haven't spent most of the last month drunk on piña coladas. It would be easy to think so, given that I've now posted three recipes in quick succession featuring the combination of pineapple and coconut, but I think it's more down to a sort of pineapple snowball effect, whereby the more pineapple I used in recipes the more I decided to experiment. It's a fruit I rarely use, preferring just to eat it as it is, sprinkled with a little cinnamon or chopped mint. However, having bought a few to cook with, I ended up with a very overripe specimen that demanded quick culinary usage. Not fancying a heavy, butter-rich dessert, I decided a sorbet would be the perfect option.
There isn't much to say about this, to be honest (and I mean that in a good way). It's about as close to eating a frozen pineapple as you can get: pineapple flesh, sugar, lime juice, and a little coconut milk. The milk adds a creamy smoothness to the texture and a slight hint of coconut (though not the overwhelming burst you get from my piña colada cake), and the end result is a hugely refreshing summer dessert.
I love ripe pineapple. Supermarket specimens can be extremely variable; scent is the best way of gauging whether it is ripe or not, but even then you can be disappointed by glassy, pastel flesh that has an unpleasant astringency. The one sitting in my fruit bowl was perfect. It had actually turned brown in places, which I see as a good sign. Most fruit is at its best just before it turns brown and almost mouldy; mangoes on the point of turning are often the sweetest and juiciest; ditto pears, peaches, cherries.
This pineapple was the beautiful colour of an egg yolk, bursting with sweet juice. I chopped up the flesh and put it into a blender. I made a syrup from coconut milk and vanilla sugar, added it to the fruit, then finished it off with the juice of a lime. The lime is important to bring out the sweetness of the pineapple; things always taste more bland once frozen. The vanilla is also a great way of enhancing the pineapple flavour; I don't quite know why, but it just works.
After that, I just churned it in an ice cream maker and froze it. The result is a gorgeous, pale yellow sorbet with a slightly creamy texture. It's extremely light; you could eat half the tub and not feel sick. Well, I could, but then I have quite a high threshold for anything involving sugar and fruit. I think it's because the milk mellows the flavour and so you end up with quite a mild-tasting sorbet. The texture is almost crumbly; if I made this again I might work on getting it a bit smoother, but it's all about the taste which is excellent. I might try adding desiccated coconut to the mix next time, for a bit of crunch. I'd also up the lime juice and sugar for even more pineapple flavour, but this is very good as it is.
This is a great way of using up overripe pineapple, and I think it would also work with mangoes or maybe even banana. It would be good served with any rich dessert, particularly a coconut cake.
Pineapple and coconut sorbet (makes half a litre):
1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
200ml coconut milk
100g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar plus 1tsp vanilla extract)
Bring the coconut milk and sugar to the boil to dissolve the sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
Put the pineapple into a blender and blend to a puree. Add the cooled coconut syrup and the lime juice. At this point you can sieve it if you want a really smooth sorbet, but I didn't bother.
Churn in an ice cream maker until frozen. It really is as easy as that.