We had been in Maui for a couple of weeks before we decide to do something other than go to the beach. AJ and I had been to Maui three years ago, for our friend Nina and Aric’s wedding (thank you Nina and Aric for introducing us to Maui, we’ll forever be grateful!). Back then, we had done a lot of the big “tourist” things, including the Road to Hana, the sunrise at Mt. Haleakala, a traditional luau and numerous hikes around the island to see waterfalls and volcano cinder cones. But one part of the island that we didn’t have a chance to visit is West Maui. Originally a different island completely, millions years ago, the two volcanoes that created the two islands flowed together creating an isthmus bridging the two, making one big island. The drive around West Maui can be a bit harrowing, as the roads in the northern part of the coast aren’t in the best condition and with our ghetto rental car (it barely accelerates) we celebrated our survival afterwards with this Pineapple Galette and Caramel Rum Sauce with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
There are two major resort areas in Maui, the newer Wailea area, which is just south of where we stayed in Kihei (this part of the island is often called South Maui). Resorts like the Fairmont and the Four Seasons have hotels here, and there are some excellent beaches (including my favorite ones, Big Beach and Little Beach). Over on West Maui are the older fancy resorts though. The Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott and Ritz Carlton all have hotels over in West Maui, and the beaches over there are suppose to be quite fantastic as well, with some amazing snorkeling. One guide book claimed that you if you were to discover the island as is and wanted to build a resort on it, you would pick the West Maui area to build. Why we didn’t make it over there on our first visit is beyond me.
We started our trip to West Maui with lunch at Star Noodle. AJ and I were told to check it out by numerous people who have visited Maui recently, and it’s no wonder, as lunch was pretty fantastic. Chef Sheldon Simeon was voted 2011 Chef of the Year in Maui magazine as well as Rising Star Chef finalist for the James Beard Awards (Star Noodle itself was nominated for Best New Restaurant) and it’s no wonder, with his fresh take on noodles and Asian fusion food with a pacific rim twist. AJ and I split some Steamed Pork Buns, the fish special (I think it was a butterfish with teriyaki miso glaze) and shared the Hapa Ramen. All fantastic, definitely worth the hype.
That said we mostly bypassed the West Maui beaches, and headed over to look at the dragon teeth lava rocks near the Ritz Carlton. These rock formations are just past the Ritz Carlton, which had built its resort near an ancient burial ground (apparently the Ritz Carlton had never seen the movie Poltergeist). The way the wind swept and cooled the lava, and the erosion from the salt water, left the rock formations to look like jagged dragon teeth. As we walked around, we saw a group of kids from the Ritz Carlton being led out by a lifeguard to a part of the ocean where they were jumping in and swimming. Had we brought our swimwear along, we would have joined them!
A few miles past the dragon teeth is the Nakalele Blowhole. The blowhole was made by the ocean salt water wearing away a hole in the lava, and with each wave an eruption of water jumps up, similar to a geyser. It’s pretty dramatic and the day before we arrived, a man (from the San Francisco Bay Area, no less) decided to go and stand right next to the blow hole…and ended up getting sucked right into the ocean. Sadly he was never found afterwards. The ocean is a powerful creature, don’t mess with it people. AJ and I admired the blowhole from a safe distance, though we did hike down to take a closer look.
The journey around West Maui is exquisite, similar to the Road to Hana (I’ll be writing about that journey soon enough) but one thing you don’t really see much of are waterfalls. Some of the best waterfalls on the island are actually over on the West Maui side of the island, but you need to take a helicopter ride to actually see them. AJ and I decided not to do a helicopter ride on this trip (though you can check out our helicopter ride over Kauai if you want to see some amazing waterfall pictures). That said, the views from West Maui of the coastline is still gorgeous. Traveling around the island in car gave us a pretty unique perspective all the way around, allowing us to see the ocean and the neighboring islands from all sorts of angles.
We did stop at the top of a cliff in a remote town, to grab a mango smoothie and take in the view. The kids working the smoothie bus tried to hustle me for a couple more dollars to visit Los Angeles for their school and I ended giving them a few more dollars tip for the smoothie. I’ll admit, after the long weary drive along the ragged road, that smoothie tasted pretty darn good.
In the end, we survived our trip around West Maui, a trip that was probably even more harrowing than a trip around Hana, happy to have done it, but even happier to have it behind us. To soothe my nerves, I decided I needed to bake a little. This galette is relatively easy to make, but I went a few steps past easy to fancy it up. The homemade rum caramel is pretty awesome on anything you want to put it on, especially vanilla bean ice cream. I bought the ice cream at the local grocery store, because we didn’t have an ice cream maker in the condo, but if you have homemade ice cream, go for it, that will make it all the more fancy.
And if you by chance have an opportunity to drive around West Maui, don’t forget your camera. And your seatbelt too.
I went ahead and grilled the pineapple to give my galette an extra touch of smokiness which adds a nice depth to the fruit. But the galette is perfectly fine with just plain ungrilled pineapple. I do recommend that you use fresh pineapple and not canned pineapple if you can get it. Fresh pineapples tend to be sweeter and firmer than the canned version. The varietal of pineapple they use for the canned fruit also tend to be more acidic to help with the preservation aspect of canning. Trader Joe’s has fresh pineapple spears already sliced and ready to eat that would be perfect for this galette.
Galette Pastry Shell
75 g (1/2 cup) whole-wheat flour
150 g (1 cup) all purpose flour
15 g (2 tablespoons) cornstarch
10 g (1 tablespoon) brown sugar
125 g (9 tablespoons) cold salted butter
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rum
2 lbs of fresh pineapple (about 1/2 medium to large pineapple)
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
15 g (2 tablespoons) cornstarch
100 g (1/2 cup) white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of water for glaze
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar for sprinkling over the galette
Caramel Rum Sauce
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dark rum, divided
1 tablespoon water
1/2” slice of fresh ginger
2” cinnamon stick
1 emptied vanilla pod (from the filling)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
100 g (1/2 cup) white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
Store bought vanilla bean ice cream or homemade if you have it.
1. Place the flours, cornstarch and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients until evenly distributed and even in color. Cut the salted butter into 1/4” cubes. Sprinkle over the dry ingredients and toss with your hands to coat the cubes. Then, again using your hands, squeeze the cubes of butter until they flatten out. Continue with the rest of the butter and quickly work the butter into smaller bits, squeezing and tossing the dry ingredients until the dough starts to resemble crumbly cornmeal, with bits of butter still in flattened chunks.
2. Beat the egg in a small bowl with the salt, and then add it to the dough, along with the rum. Toss and fold the wet ingredients in, until a dough forms. Gather the dough into a flatten disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
3. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Preheat a grill to high heat. Take a whole pineapple and remove the crown from the pineapple by placing the pineapple body on the edge of a counter, and breaking the prickly crown off the edge of the counter (be careful that you don’t hurt yourself, as the crown can be a bit sharp). Then slice the pineapple in half lengthwise down. Save half the pineapple for a different use (like eating it) and use the other half for the galette.
5. Place the pineapple half, flat side down, on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise again. Then slice the bottom and top part of the pineapple quarter off and discard. Stand the pineapple quarter on it’s now flattened bottom and, using a sharp knife, slice off the skin of the pineapple. Repeat with the second quarter of the pineapple. Take the pineapple quarters (it will look like a long fat triangular spear) and place on the hot grill, one side down. Grill for a two to three minutes until grill marks appear. Flip to the second flat side and grill again for two to three minutes. Then flip to the curved back side and grill again for two to three minutes. Remove from the grill and let the pineapple cool as you prepare the custard filling.
6. Make the custard filling by placing the egg yolks, cream, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Save the vanilla bean pod for the caramel sauce. Stir the custard filling with a fork until the cornstarch has dissolved and the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
7. Roll the galette out on a well floured flat surface until you have a rectangular shaped crust, about 16-18” by 8-10” in size (give or take – you want the dough to be about 1/4” thick). Place the dough on the lined baking sheet. Sliced the grilled pineapple into 1/2” slices. Pour the custard in the center of the dough and arrange the pineapple slices in two rows down the center of the dough over the custard, leaving about two to three inches on the edges. Fold the sides of the galette up and over the pineapples on all sides.
8. Beat the egg and water together until it foams and the wash is uniform in color and you can’t see anymore egg white. Brush the wash over the top of the galette crust (and under the corners, where the crust folds over itself). Then sprinkle the crust and the top of the pineapple with the two tablespoons of white sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the crust if golden brown and the fruit juices start to bubble and look thick. Cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before moving the galette to a cooling rack (I just pulled the parchment paper over from the baking sheet to a cooling rack, with the galette on it – easy).
9. While the galette is cooling, make the caramel sauce by combining 1/2 cup of rum (reserve the 1 tablespoon of rum for later), water, ginger, cinnamon stick, brown sugar and the reserved emptied vanilla pod from the filling in a small pot. Heat on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid starts to boil. Turn off the heat and cover to let the spices steep.
10. Place the white sugar in a heavy bottomed large pan. Turn the heat to high and let the sugar melt, stirring occasionally with a heat proof silicon spatula or wooden spoon. As the sugar melts continue to stir and shake the pan so all the sugar melts evenly. Once the sugar has melted and starts to brown, turn the heat off and let the residual heat of the pan continue to caramelize the sugar. You want the caramel to turn a dark golden brown, closer to chestnut but not mahogany brown. If the caramel has stopped browning and isn’t dark enough, turn the heat back on to low to give it a little nudge (it’s better to go slow and let the residual heat caramelize, as you can always make the caramel darker, but you can’t go backwards).
11. Once the caramel is the right color, cautiously pour the liquid through a strainer (to catch the ginger, cinnamon and vanilla pod) into the caramel. The caramel will sputter and steam up so be careful and don’t burn yourself. Stir the caramel to melt it into the liquid. If there are solid parts, turn the heat back on to medium and stir until the entire caramel sauce is liquid. Remove from heat once the caramel is smooth. Then stir in the reserved tablespoon of rum along with the honey.
12. Serve the galette warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of rum caramel.