Delicious BBQ Desserts: Grilled Pineapple, Peaches and Strawberries...

This article was written by Giovanna Ryan for Sous Chef UK

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Contents:

How do I BBQ...

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Introduction

Maybe somewhat unusually, I was inducted into the art of barbecuing at quite a young age. My dad absolutely loves to barbecue, almost as much as he loves to teach us things and the combination of the two meant that I was comfortably manning the barbecue from the age of around ten.

We barbecued all year round and often in the rain under an umbrella. At Christmas we’d cook a goose on the barbecue using the rotisserie attachment, mainly to save valuable real-estate in the oven, but it was also delicious.

We’d barbecue sausages and bacon for breakfast and throw frozen pitta breads on the grill alongside our kebabs. This early barbecue education has led to a borderline obsession with all things grilled and this isn’t limited to savoury dishes.

The unparalleled flavour that cooking over coal imparts on ingredients is just as wonderful in sweet recipes and fruit in particular can be transformed when barbecued.

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What makes a good BBQ dessert?

Of course, great desserts to serve at BBQ don’t have to be actually barbecued but there are some classic barbecue-friendly recipes that can be greatly enhanced by barbecuing some of the ingredients. Fruit takes particularly well to being grilled on the barbecue. It has the same effect as roasting at a very high temperature which creates a beautiful caramelised finish, removes some of the water and intensifies the flavour.



For me, being able to make a dessert, or at least mostly make a dessert for a barbecue, ahead of time is essential. No one wants to be chained to the grill at a social occasion, especially later in the day. Barbecued fruit tends to hold really well, and actually often improves over a couple of hours as the juices come out and mix together with other flavours.

Barbecued fruit pairs really well with rich dairy ingredients like ice cream, double cream or thick Greek yogurt. You can use the grilled and cooled fruit in cake fillings, to top pavlovas or cheesecakes, folded into an Eton mess or churned into ice cream.

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How to grill fruit on the barbecue

The technique for cooking fruit on the barbecue depends a lot on the fruit itself, particularly its sugar content and its structural integrity. Some will take well to cooking over direct heat and some will need something to protect it from the flames, such as a tray or its own skin.

Some fruits are best grilled just as they are, and others are better off marinated in something or macerated first or basted throughout cooking. Fruits with a higher sugar content or that have had sugar added to them before cooking are in danger of burning quickly so they need a close eye.

As fruit doesn’t contain any fat, you will need to oil your grill before cooking to avoid it sticking and ruining the finish. It's worth considering too, the ripeness of the fruit you’re cooking. You can get away with less flavourful, slightly under-ripe fruit in some cases as the barbecue will intensify and greatly improve the flavour, but not always.

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How to grill peaches and other stone fruit

Peaches are probably the most commonly grilled fruit and grilled peaches in both sweet and savoury dishes are having a bit of a moment. They work really well on the barbecue due to their inherent sweetness and their relatively firm texture. This is also true of other stone fruit, such as plums and apricots which behave in a very similar way.

You need to start with good fruit. Under-ripe or flavourless peaches won’t be revived by grilling sadly. They should be ripe but not over-ripe as they will fall apart when cooked.

To make grilled peaches, halve the fruit and carefully take out the stones, trying to keep the flesh as intact as possible.


Method

  1. Bring the barbecue to a medium heat as a very high temperature will burn the flesh before the middle has had a chance to benefit from any cooking.
  2. Oil the griddle well to avoid the peaches sticking and place them, cut side down onto the barbecue.
  3. Leave for around 3-4 minutes then carefully turn over once the cut side has caramelised.
  4. Cook for a further 5 or so minutes until the flesh is soft and yielding.
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How to serve grilled peaches

Peaches are beautiful just grilled as they are, but you could also brush them with a little melted butter and sugar whilst they cook.

  • Once your peaches are cooked, drizzle them with a little honey as soon as you take them off the grill. You could also drizzle them with “hot honey” - honey spiked with chilli flakes. Serve with mascarpone, greek yogurt or sweet labneh (hung yogurt with a little icing sugar stirred through) and some toasted flaked almonds.
  • Leave your cooked peach halves to cool in their own juices then slip their skins off. Serve with vanilla ice cream and macerated raspberries for a barbecued peach melba dessert.
  • Take the skins off your barbecued peaches then mash with a potato masher along with a couple of tablespoons of brandy to make a rough puree. Fold this through an anglaise base and churn in an ice cream machine. Once the ice cream has frozen, fold through crushed amaretti biscuits for a delicious summer dessert. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you could do the same with a condensed milk ice cream base.

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How to grill pineapple

There are a couple of options when it comes to grilling pineapple. You can cut it into rings and grill as pineapple steaks, or you can be brave and barbecue it whole. The whole pineapple option makes for an impressive centrepiece summer dessert, but it is a bit trickier to manage. If you happen to have a rotisserie attachment for your barbecue, I’d definitely recommend skewering a whole, peeled pineapple on the pole and leaving it over a low to medium heat for a couple of hours, basting it every so often with a mixture of rum, brown sugar and melted butter. Put a tray underneath to catch the juices - you won’t want to lose them. You don’t have to do the basting, but I would highly recommend it!

However, in the likely event that you don’t have this contraption, you can achieve the same effect directly on the grill. Peel a whole pineapple and take the eyes out of the top layer of the flesh. I like to leave the top on for aesthetic reasons but you can easily remove it if you’d rather. Bring the barbecue to a medium/low temperature and place the whole pineapple on the pre-oiled griddle. You don’t want a high heat here otherwise it will just burn and the inside won’t be cooked. Baste with the rum, butter and sugar mixture and leave for around 10 minutes, then turn, basting again. Repeat this process for an hour or so until you have a beautifully caramelised, yielding whole pineapple that cuts like butter. If your barbecue has a lid, close the lid after every turn, if not, cover with a blanket of foil to help it cook more evenly. You can put a

To grill pineapple steaks, the process is the same, but much shorter.


Method

  1. Peel and remove the eyes from the pineapple and cut into slices around 2cm thick.
  2. Cut the core out of the steaks with a round pastry cutter or just with a knife.
  3. Place the steaks on a pre-oiled grill and baste the top side with rum butter.
  4. After 5 minutes, turn the steaks over and repeat the basting process.
  5. Repeat the whole process a few times until the pineapple is golden and soft.
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How to serve grilled pineapple

  • Simply serve with lime and chilli sugar. Add chilli powder or chilli flakes to caster sugar with finely grated lime zest.
  • Roughly chop the cooled, grilled pineapple and use to top and fill a tropical pavlova. Drizzle the juices that will develop when the fruit rests over the top of your creation to finish.
  • Serve over a no-churn coconut ice cream. Whip together the cream from a tin of full fat coconut milk (discard or drink the water that has settled at the bottom of the tin) with 150ml double cream. Fold in ½ can condensed milk, pour into a container and freeze.

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How to BBQ strawberries

Strawberries are one of the anomalies in the barbecued fruit game. Unlike most fruits, you don’t want to use the very best strawberries on the barbecue. Barbecuing the sweetest, peak season berries would be a travesty. Save them for enjoying fresh. Grilling will greatly improve the flavour and sweetness of underwhelming strawberries, or strawberries that are a bit past their best. Also, whilst you can grill strawberries over direct heat, I have had much more success cooking them in a baking tray placed on the grill.


Method

  1. Start by taking the tops off your strawberries and cutting them in half. Place them in a bowl and add some caster sugar, around 1 tablespoon per 200g strawberries depending on how sweet they are already and your preference for sweetness. Stir to coat the strawberries in the sugar and leave to macerate for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Heat the barbecue to a medium-high temperature. Place the macerated strawberries in a tray and put this on the grill. At this point you can add a tablespoon or so of sweet balsamic vinegar if you like. And you should. Leave to cook, gently stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are soft and have created their own, sweet, bright red sauce. The sauce will thicken as it cools so don’t let it reduce too far if you want to be able to drizzle it.
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How to serve BBQ strawberries

  • Simply serve with pouring cream, thick Greek yogurt or mascarpone. If desired, scatter with some chopped mint leaves or pistachios.
  • Use the cooled fruit in its sauce to take an Eton mess to the next level.
  • Pile on top of cream as the filling for a Victoria sponge or on a scone.

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How to BBQ bananas

If you only barbecue one fruit in your life, it should be a banana. They are made for grilling and they become so much more than their natural form when they are cooked on the barbecue. Their skin provides a natural barrier for the intense heat and allows them to cook without burning, leaving soft and intensely sweet flesh.

You don’t want to use super-ripe fruit for this, as they will just fall apart, so firm-ish but yellow bananas are best for this. The cooking process will replicate the ripening process so don’t worry.

You can barbecue them whole in their skins, either on the grill or in the embers as the fire dies down like you would a baked potato. This works well if you want to scoop out the flesh and use it in baking or ice creams for example.

Alternatively you can split them vertically down the middle and grill them in halves.


Method

  1. Carefully cut your bananas in half from end to end and lay on a baking tray or chopping board.
  2. Cover each half with ½ tablespoon of demerara sugar and leave for 10 minutes for the sugar to dissolve slightly so that it doesn’t fall off when put on the grill.
  3. Heat the barbecue to a medium high heat and place the bananas, cut side down onto a pre-oiled grill.
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes then, once the cut side is nicely caramelised, carefully flip them onto their skin side.
  5. Continue to cook until the bananas are soft throughout and very sweet.
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How to serve BBQ bananas

  • Use the flesh to make an out-of-this-world banana bread
  • Drizzle with melted chocolate and serve with vanilla ice cream, crushed peanuts and whipped cream for a decadent banana split.
  • Use to stuff sweet barbecued flatbreads

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1 comment

  • your recipe is a wonderful recipe

    Isabella Ames on

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