Upgrade Your Brunch Menu with Johnny Iuzzini’s Pineapple-Polenta Cake

Being locked indoors all Winter long can really put a damper on a gal’s brunch routine, wouldn’t you agree? Well, now that Mother Nature’s playing nice again, we can’t wait to get back to enjoying this weekly ritual, especially with all the fresh bounty the upcoming season has to offer. Here to help with the menu is Macy’s Culinary Council Chef Johnny Iuzzini. His tasty Pineapple-Polenta Cake with Pineapple-Spice Sauce is poised to totally take any Sunday soiree to the next level.

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Directions for the Cake:

Wrap four 3 1⁄4-inch or ten 2 1⁄4-inch tart rings with aluminum foil to cover the bottoms, bringing the foil up around the outside of each ring, and place the rings on a baking sheet.

Put ½ cup sugar in a heavy skillet. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of cool water and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high. Leave the pan alone until the sugar starts to color, then pick up the pan and roll the sugar in it so it colors evenly. Cook until the caramel is dark amber. Immediately pour into the tart rings, carefully tilting them (hold onto the outer foil layer) to make an even layer on the bottom.

Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Cut off the peel and the eyes. Slice into vertical quarters and cut out the core. Cut one of the quarters into 1⁄2-inch-wide slices, then into pieces that will fit into the tart rings. Use one piece of pineapple for each of the smaller rings and two for the larger.

Heat the oven to 375ºF (or 350ºF on convection).

Next, cut the butter into a few pieces and put it, with 7 tbsps sugar, into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl often.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and 1⁄4 tsp salt together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix at low speed until you have a smooth batter, scraping the bowl as needed.

Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe over the pineapple, filling the rings three-quarters full. If you are making the larger tarts, pipe in some batter, add another layer of pineapple, then finish filling with batter. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 8 minutes for the small cakes and 10 for the large, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let cool briefly.

Run a knife around the cakes, then turn them over and peel off the aluminum and take off the rings.

Arrange the carpaccio (see below) folded over and layered around the plate. Put a cake upside down on a dessert plate and garnish with some candied ginger, if desired, and Pineapple-Spice Sauce. Repeat for each serving.


Directions for Pineapple Carpaccio and Candied Ginger:

Clean the pineapple. Cut in half and remove the center. Slice very thin and lay flat on a tray. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Buy a high quality chewy crystallized ginger and slice thin strips.  Keep in an airtight container.


Directions for the Pineapple-Spice Sauce:

Peel and chop the ginger. Put it in a saucepan with the sugar, pineapple juice, cloves, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is syrupy and reduced by half, about 1 hour. Strain, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Yields about 1 cup. Serve warm.


There’s plenty more where this delicious recipe came from — find more mouthwatering dishes from our trusted Macy’s Culinary Council at macys.com/culinarycouncil

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