Here is an easy, high-impact dessert that you can make ahead. Pineapple confit in honey and vanilla, served with refreshing vanilla mascarpone.
It comes from the book “Verrines Toute Fraîches!” by José Maréchal. Verrines are small, transparent glass bowls, usually with straight sides like an Old Fashioned glass, not very big, and used to serve layered appetizers or desserts. They’ve been a big fad in France for several years.
I’ve made the recipe many times in the years since I was given this book, and I have tweaked it considerably: I cut the honey and sugar in half, doubled the mascarpone and reduced the egg (more egg makes the mascarpone looser). I like the contrast of the sweet pineapple with the less-sweet mascarpone; if you want your mascarpone sweeter, you can easily add sugar. Here is my version:
Pineapple Mascarpone Parfait (serves 6-8)
1 fresh pineapple
1 tablespoon honey
1 vanilla bean
500 grams (about 16 ounces) mascarpone
3 egg yolks
2 packets of sucre vanillé (you can substitute 16 grams, or 4 teaspoons, of white sugar plus two teaspoons of vanilla extract)
Cut the pineapple into small chunks; I prefer half an inch but my sous-chef tends to go for inch cubes. Make sure to remove the eyes.
In a skillet with a cover, warm the honey then add the pineapple and vanilla bean. Cover and cook it slowly over medium-low heat. Stir often. Keep an eye for when the liquid starts to disappear and the pineapple turns a nice brown. It can take a good hour. You want the liquid to cook out of the pineapple so the dessert isn’t watery. Let it cool.
Meanwhile, stir together the mascarpone, sugar/vanilla and egg yolks.
Serve in old-fashioned or brandy glasses (brandy glasses are harder to eat from), layering some pineapple at the bottom, then the mascarpone, then more pineapple. Chill until serving. If you’re making it ahead (a day or even several hours), keep the mascarpone covered so it doesn’t dry out.