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Take a breakfast trip to the islands

As bagged fruits at reduced prices, citrus is ending its run. Apples and pears have been in cold storage for six months. And on my latest trip to the grocery store, the entire display table for organic bananas was stripped bare.

But just a few feet away another golden pile lured me with its distinctive aroma and longed-for sweetness. Anticipated for more than a month, ripe pineapple had finally arrived.

Tropical fruits come on at the perfect time of year for cooks and shoppers: the depressing window when domestic tree fruits are pale shadows of their peak-season selves and berries haven’t really come on with enough force to fill the void. In addition to pineapples, mangoes, papaya and their ilk are ready to step up and do some heavy mealtime lifting.

I bought four massive organic mangoes to complement three whole pineapples, ripe and ready to eat. With so much fruit to consume in fairly short order, I started with breakfast and my version of Hawaiian french toast that’s typically served with “coconut syrup” to enhance the island fruit.

Because I didn’t have coconut syrup — often coconut milk laced with high fructose corn syrup — I simply substituted some sweetened condensed milk already open in the fridge, topped with unsweetened, dried, flaked coconut. Sandwiching pineapple slices between two pieces of french toast with whipped cream, barely drizzled with the sweetened condensed milk, made a satisfying dish that was neither too rich nor too sweet.

Next time, we’ll try waffles at my partner’s request, perhaps this recipe that riffs on the piña colada. Macadamia nuts, rather than hazelnuts, would situate it in the islands.

Piña Colada Waffles

Tribune News Service photo

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 tablespoons granulated cane sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pie spice

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 (13.66-ounce) can coconut milk

2.34 ounces avocado oil (see note)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped

1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts, finely chopped

Pineapple sauce (recipe follows), for serving

Preheat oven to 200 F and preheat waffle iron to medium or medium-high heat. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, pie spice, cardamom and salt in a bowl, then whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, coconut milk, avocado oil and vanilla extract. Slowly add dry mixture until fully incorporated, then fold in the pineapple, coconut and hazelnuts. Pour batter into waffle iron, close and cook for about 3 minutes, or until outside is crisp and golden-brown.

While making multiple batches, store cooked waffles in 200-degree oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, top waffles with some of the pineapple sauce and more toasted coconut.

Makes 14 small (4-inch) waffles.

NOTE: To measure precise amount of avocado oil, pour canned coconut milk into a 2-cup measuring cup, then pour in avocado oil until there are two full cups of liquid.

PINEAPPLE SAUCE: Combine in a saucepan 2 cups pineapple, roughly chopped into half-inch pieces, with 1/2 cup pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water and 1/3 cup granulated cane sugar; simmer for about 20 minutes until sauce thickens into a syrup.