In the first world of first world-liest problems, a problem I would love to be having this very week when I’m shivering again (despite many suggestions of spring on the near horizon) is that when in my life I’ve been lucky enough to decamp to a tropical location for a vacation, and wish to do what one does on tropical vacations — I mean, aside from wearing such buckets of SPF that when I return people comment, “I thought you went to the beach?” — and that is ordering a piña colada. Possibly at a swim-up bar. In a hurricane glass with a tacky paper umbrella in it, a fluorescent maraschino cherry, and a creamy-tart balance that is unfettered vacation bliss with each sip. The problem is that they’re very often…. terrible, tinny and artificially-flavored. I mean, I drink it; I’m not a barbarian. But every time I do (daily, at 4:30pm, please), I vow that when I get home, I’m going to make a real and proper and perfect one to set things right again.
Well, give or take a couple weeks and half a dozen vacations over a dozen years, I’ve made good on my promise, taking a page from last summer’s frozen watermelon mojitos. I learned while making them that you could forego both the ice that waters down the flavor of the fruit, and the juice, which doesn’t have the intensity I crave, by starting with fresh fruit and freezing it in cubes. It doesn’t take that long and you will not be sad to have a bag of frozen pineapple chunks waiting for you whenever the piña colada craving strikes. While I start with fresh pineapple, don’t worry, I still use classic canned cream of coconut (a sweetened, thicker, syrupy delight that’s to coconut milk almost what sweetened condensed milk is to regular milk) as the second ingredient. I add a little lime juice, because I love it with coconut and pineapple, just enough white rum, and I blend it until it’s creamy and smooth and immediately — even in the cold of a NYC winter — causes a dewy condensation on the outside of the glass. No swim-up bar, no beachy horizon, but I do have a paper palm tree umbrella in my perfect-at-last drink, so I must be doing something right.
Six Months Ago: Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies
One year ago: Salted Peanut Tart and <a href="Perfect Meatballs and Spaghetti
Twos years ago: Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese
Three years ago: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Pomegranate Grapefruit Paloma
Four years ago: Belgian Brownie Cakelets, Broccoli Melts, and White Russian
Five years ago: Perfect Corn Muffins and Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Fried Eggs
Six years ago: Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt and Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew and Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
Seven years ago: Blood Orange Margaritas
Eight years ago: Double Coconut Muffins and Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Nine years ago: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Fried Almonds and Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
Ten years ago: Walnut Jam Cake, Ginger Fried Rice and Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream
Eleven years ago: Whole Lemon Tart, Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage and Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Twelve years ago: Pasta Puttanesca and Pear and Almond Tart
Thirteen years ago: Fusilli with Baked Tomato Sauce and Aloo Gobi.
Fresh pineapple can range in sweetness, juiciness, and intensity so feel free to adjust these proportions to your tastes. I definitely think you could use a bag of frozen watermelon chunks instead of fresh here; I usually find them a touch more sweet.
- 1 medium-large fresh pineapple
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) sweetened cream of coconut, from a can
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) white rum
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Prepare your pineapple:* Cut the tree-like top off and then one slice off the bottom, both to remove the skin and to create a flat surface underneath to stabilize the pineapple. Cut one clean 1/2-inch slice from the bottom and set it aside to garnish your drink later. Cut the skin off the rest of the pineapple in large strips, making sure to cut deep enough into the flesh to remove all of the skin. Quarter the pineapple and turn each quarter on its side. Remove the core from each quarter in one long cut. Cut the pineapple quarters into 1/2-inch slices. Cover a baking sheet or tray with plastic (makes for easier removal and no lost juice) and arrange pineapple chunks in one layer. Freeze until solid.
To make your drinks: Place 3 cups of pineapple chunks in a blender along with cream of coconut, rum, and lime. Blend until absolutely smooth and velvety. Taste, adjusting flavors as you wish. Pour into 8-ounce glasses and garnish with reserved pineapple. I added an extra drizzle of coconut milk on top, just because. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and paper umbrella, if you wish. Enjoy right away.
[* If you’re going to ask me if I’ve tried this, I have and would like those 15 minutes of my life back. If you’re going to ask me if I’ve tried this, no, but if you do, please report back.]
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