I am just coming back from a city break to the Charente region on the French Atlantic coast. Famous for its Marennes-Oleron Oysters, tasty snails called cagouilles, Chabis goatscheese, this is also where the world-famous Cognac is made and the highly underrated Pineau des Charentes.
For many, Pineau in France is a bit like Gin in the UK : a relic of the past that no one takes seriously anymore. But just like Gin, Pineau producers are reaching out to the public and trying to give the product a facelift. And I was quite surprised myself to see how popular the bottle of Pineau I brought to a friend’s party turned out to be!
For those who don’t know it, Pineau is a fortified wine made from grape juice and cognac. Like wine, you can find it in red, white or rosé variants and it can be aged as well. It is always served chilled, and rosé is often served with ice and a slice of lemon.
Now, as you can imagine, I also wanted to try it in a recipe, like that gorgeous scallop with onion purée, red pineau and black truffles I was served in a local stared Michelin restaurant callled La Ribaudière.
Back home, I decided to cook some Pineau with braised red cabbage. I deglazed my duck filet with Pineau and served it with a parsnip purée. That was brilliant!
I made another recipe with Pineau, this time a dessert, certainly inspired by a recent trip to Italy: a Pineau Semifreddo on a biscuit base, topped with spicy pineapple slices.
Pineau Semifreddo & Spicy Pineapple
For the Semifreddo :
- 3 egg yolks
- 100g sugar
- 130ml white Pineau
- 350ml double cream
For the cake base :
- 250g shortbread biscuits
- 2 tbsp white pineau
For the spicy pineapple :
- ¼ fresh pineapple
- 50g sugar
- 20g water
-1 whole chilli pepper
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper in a freezable container. Crumble up the biscuit and add two spoonfuls of Pineau. Place in the tray and put in the freezer.
Prepare the sabayon. Beat the egg yolks with sugar for two minutes. Place the preparation in a sauce pan on medium heat. Add in the pineau bit by bit while mixing. After a few minutes the mixture will double in size and become thicker. Take away from the heat and set aside.
Make a chantilly with the double cream (cold from the fridge). Add to it the sabayon and mix together gently.
Pour over the biscuit then put back in the freezer for at least 6 hours.
With a mandolin slicer cut the pineapple into paper thin slices. In a pan put the sugar, water and the chilli to make a syrup.
Let it cool down then pour over the pineapple. Put in the fridge for one hour.
Take out your biscuit 10 minutes before serving. You can make individual portions using cookie cutters. Decorate each cake with a few slices of pineapple. You can add some mint leaves and cake crumbs on each plate.