Pineapple Macadamia-Nut Upside-Down Cake; caramelized fresh pineapple over a delicious batter flavored with cardamon, rum, and pineapple juice along with toasted macadamia nuts! Yes please."
The making of Pineapple Macadamia-Nut Upside-Down Cake
Imagine my surprise.
25 years of marriage and who knew?
We were having one of our many celebratory dinners for our 25th wedding anniversary in Hawaii at Roy's Steakhouse on the Big Island.
25th Wedding Anniversaries are big deals, and Roy's wanted to treat us right on our special "day" by surprising us with a triple threat of desserts which meant surprising us with all the desserts on their menu; including Roy's Famous Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle, a beautiful refreshing Kaffir Lime Tart with Fresh Raspberries, and a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
WOW - where to start?
"OMG," says BB "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake - my VERY FAVORITE DESSERT!"
What? Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is your very favorite dessert? How could I not know that? And why have I never EVER made one for you?
Pineapple Upside Down Cake - 60's Style
I used to make pineapple upside-down cakes in my former life. Everyone made pineapple upside-down cake. Dole pineapple had a great recipe using canned pineapple in every magazine of the day, pineapple slices with the maraschino cherry stuck in the hole. Yellow cake mix poured over the top. Yep. Everyone made it.
I was not a huge fan. Not that I didn't like the pineapple, but I wasn't crazy about the cherry part of the program, and yellow cake is yellow cake and well, the whole thing is just so 60's.
But as it is Mr. Baker's very favorite dessert, I decided to revamp, revise, and make it again. 2016 style.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake - 2016's Style
Most recipes I found still use the pineapple/maraschino cherry recipe. But since neither of us is huge fans of the cherries (at least not since we've moved on past the Shirley Temple and Roy Roger's drinks phase of our lives) I thought I would update it to exclude the cherries. And since I love macadamia nuts, and they are a natural with pineapple flavors, why not add that heart-healthy nut to the mix?
And we know to always toast our nuts right?
The Perfect Pan for the Job
I liked making this in my cast iron skillet because it caramelizes the topping so well. That said, use extreme caution and keep a good eye on your topping as you make it. It goes from being a beautiful caramel to being a big old burnt mess in very short order. Like minutes. So don't let your skillet get too hot, and don't take your eyes off it once it really starts getting that beautiful caramel color and smell.
Or you will have this
Burnt caramel topping.
And when you have this, there is only one thing to do.
Dump it and start over.
Another word of caution - the sugar mixture is VERY hot so if you do burn it, and you do have to toss it, don't pour it in anything that melts. The best container would be an old can that you can just toss once the mixture cools. I poured mine into a glass bowl as that's what I had sitting there on the counter. I didn't even think about it cooling - into a big hard lump of burnt sugar. The only way I had to get that mess out of the bowl was to run it under hot water until it melted.
So I don't recommend that. If you screw up and burn it, pour it into a can.
But start over you must.
Pineapple is Key (or is that King?)
Once you have your beautifully caramelized macadamia nut topping; layer those pineapple rings over the top, keeping them as close together as you can. I have a nifty pineapple corer that I love for making pineapple rings, but if you don't have one, then you could simply peel the pineapple with a sharp knife, cut into quarters, remove the core with your knife, then slice the quarters into ⅓ inch slices. You will use those slices to remake rings or make a design of your own choosing. The idea is to get as much pineapple on the top (bottom?) of the cake as you can. If fresh pineapple cannot be found, then use canned pineapple rings that you have drained and patted dry. Since the batter uses pineapple juice in it, reserve the canned juice for this purpose. If using fresh pineapple you will need to buy a can of pineapple juice.
Once you have your pineapple over the top of the caramel, then spoon your batter over and spread it evenly.
The batter is really delicious. It's flavored with butter (of course), sugar, cardamom, vanilla, rum, pineapple juice, and toasted macadamia nut.
Wow! Every single flavor supports the other flavors to create a perfect mouthful.
Once you have baked your cake until a toothpick or tester comes out clean (anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes depending on your oven)
wait 5 minutes and then carefully flip it onto a serving plate. I say carefully because the pan will still be hot AND you want to make a nice clean flip to keep the cake from breaking into pieces, so hold that serving plate FIRMLY against the top of the skillet and without hesitation, FLIP...
Pineapple Macadamia-Nut Upside-Down Cake
Drizzle with optional rum if desired. BB desired. I did not.
Serve and enjoy. Alone, a la mode or with whipped cream.
Hmmm...I wonder how this would be with some coconut ice cream???
LindySez: BTW - mine is MUCH better than Roy's...really..
Note: When made in a baking dish, the top will not be as caramelized as it would be when made in a seasoned cast-iron skillet. I highly recommend buying and seasoning a skillet for this, and so many other dishes. Cast iron is cheap, durable and once well-seasoned, works as well as a Teflon coated pan, but without the chemicals. You can purchase a cast-iron skillet for about $10.00 at your favorite kitchen supply store, or most hardware stores. Lodge is the best-known brand, and what I own, but I imagine they all work about the same.
Pineapple Macadamia-Nut Upside-Down Cake
- For the Topping
- 1 medium fresh ripe pineapple* Peeled cored and sliced into ⅓ inch thick slices
- ¾ stick unsalted butter
- ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar light or dark
- 2 ounces toasted macadamia nuts roughly chopped, separated
- For the Batter
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons ground cardamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon REAL vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon REAL rum extract
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- Dark rum for sprinkling over the cake, optional
- Special Equipment
- A well seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet**
- Heat the oven to 350°F.Prepare the topping: Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-low heat; add the brown sugar and simmer, stirring, 4 minutes. Add half of the chopped nuts and stir until they are well coated and evenly distributed in the skillet. Remove from heat and arrange the pineapple on top of the sugar mixture, placing the pieces of pineapple as closely together as you can. Use additional pieces to fill in the center as needed.
- Prepare the Batter: Sift the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt together. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; gradually add the sugar, a bit at a time; beat until the sugar is well incorporated into the butter. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and rum extract. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed, slowly add half (½) of the flour, beat until just blended, then add the pineapple juice. Once the pineapple juice has been beaten in, add the remaining flour and mix until just blended (the batter might seem slightly lumpy). Stir in the remaining nuts.
- Spoon the batter over the pineapple topping and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake the cake in the center of the heated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick when inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake sit in the skillet for 5 minutes, then hold a plate tightly over the skillet and invert in one motion. Remove the skillet and replace any pineapple or nuts that stick to the skillet. Sprinkle the rum, if using, over the top of the cake. Serve the cake just warm or at room temperature.