Manhattan Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Manhattan Marinated Cherries
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon sweet vermouth
Dash bitters
1/2 cup dried cherries (I like Rainiers, available at Trader Joe’s)

Combine cherries with the other ingedients and let sit until cherries are soft and plump, approximately 30 minutes. Drain cherries, reserving marinade. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Pineapple Layer
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Manhattan marinade
1 pound fresh pineapple cut into rings or small chunks
1/2 cup pecans, toasted

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Place butter, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the Manhattan marinade in an 11-inch cast-iron skillet, and put in oven until butter and sugar melt, about 7 to 10 minutes. Mix well.

Arrange the pineapple over the bottom of the skillet. If you’re using pineapple rings, you may wish to place the cherries or the pecans, rounded side down, in the center of the fruit, but feel free to make any arrangement of pineapple, pecans and cherries that suits you. Set skillet aside.

Cake
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple juice
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine ginger and pineapple juice in small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 3 minutes, remove from heat, and let steep for 10 minutes. Drain ginger, reserving pineapple juice. When ginger is cool, mince slices into small pieces (ginger will be soft and will shred into smallish pieces easily). Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the dry mixture a little at a time, beating until well incorporated, and scraping down bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the pineapple juice; beat well. Pour the batter over the pineapple layer and smooth the top.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (you may need to cover the top with foil to keep from browning too quickly) and until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake on a rack before turning out onto a serving plate. Serves 8 to 12.

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