Set sail for paradise on a plate.
Treat yourself (and your lucky friends) to a cruise through our favorite island-inspired dessert pies, featuring luscious tropical fruits. We'll share tips for buying and prepping tropical fruits, plus top-rated recipes to try.
Tips For Sourcing and Storing Tropical Fruit
The best way to source fresh tropical fruit is to travel a place like St. George's Market Square in Grenada and pick it up fresh from growers. If you do, get there early, as local chefs will be there by 6 a.m. to vie for the best ingredients. But if you're not getting your fruit straight from the source, here are a few tips for getting the best ones from markets north of the equator.
- Do some research before shopping for fruits you're less familiar with. As a general rule, go with the most fragrant fruits while avoiding anything with brown spots.
- The best time to shop for tropical pie ingredients is from November to March.
- Mangoes that are not quite ripe will ripen in a few days if left out of the refrigerator.
- Papaya will ripen quickly if placed in a bag with other fruits that produce the ripening agent ethylene, like bananas or apples.
- Coconuts do not ripen after being picked. To choose a good one, find one that's brown, not green, shake it, and listen for water inside. More water is better.
- Pineapple ripeness can be tested by lifting the fruit by a single leaf near the top. If the leaf holds the weight of the fruit, it's likely under-ripe. If the leaf pulls free, it's ripe—just make sure the skin isn't soft and mushy, as that's a sure sign of over-ripeness.
- While the texture might suffer, always remember that if you're in a pinch, frozen fruit is just as nutritious as fresh fruit. But if at all possible, spring for fresh. Canned pineapple is a completely different thing than the fresh stuff.
8 Luscious Pies With a Taste of the Tropics
There's lime, and then there's Key lime. A small, yellowish, intensely tart lime that takes its name from the Florida Keys, a Key lime requires a little elbow grease to yield the called-for 3/4 cup of lime juice in this recipe—but conjures up visions of warm sunshine, salty air, and sandy beaches that make the effort well worth it.
For quick and easy prep, take a tip from AllRecipes user Linda Sargent Meade, who says: "I used a garlic press to squeeze the limes quickly and easily (cut limes in half)."
Once upon a time, Christopher Columbus brought pineapples back to Europe ... and achieved major status in high society. In the 18th and 19th century, a pineapple cost as much as a decent used car does these days. There was even a pineapple rental racket for the aspirational crowd. Don't believe it? Check out The Super Luxe History of Pineapples.
This recipe saved the day for Allrecipes home cook GWENMBELL, who says, "My BIL asked me to find a two-crust pineapple pie recipe for Thanksgiving 2002. I immediately turned on my computer and found this one at Allrecipes.com. Imagine my surprise when not only my dear BIL but my dad and brother also chose this pie over their own personal favorites!"
Mini pies are all the rage, and these little pineapple tarts embody all the best things about mini pies (namely, that you can eat one of these and take a slice or two of something else). The recipe calls for cutting 2-inch circles out of pie dough and adding a 1.5-inch round of dough on top—but you can also put any pie crust design on top, or even bake them in a muffin pan. Just be sure to butter the pan thoroughly, or it'll be challenging to get them out after baking.
We tend to take bananas for granted, but yes, they're a tropical fruit. Home cook ellie may add these useful tips: "1. Dip banana slices into either lemon juice or Sprite. The citric acid will keep them from turning brown quickly. Pat them dry. 2. Must use whole milk for pudding or it will be runny. Must cook over VERY low heat and stir constantly, until THICKENED. 3. Let the pudding cool slightly before tempering eggs. 4. Flour is terrible for pudding. Always use cornstarch. No lumps, no hassle. 3 Tablespoons of CS rather than 1/3 cup flour."
Finally, many reviewers agreed you don't have to bake this pie as directed. Simply put it in the fridge and let it set up like any pudding dessert.
In Hawaii, locals know haupia is a sweet, gelatinous pie made from coconut milk. And locals also know that Ted's Bakery in Oahu is the best place for chocolate haupia pie...yet several Allrecipes reviews claim that this recipe might even top Ted's. We're sorry, Ted.
According to recipe creator mauigirl, "This recipe came about after I was gifted with a large bag of mangoes by an anonymous Maui neighbor. I was determined to use every single one of them, and by adapting an apple pie recipe, I came up with this delicious pie."
Home cook RSellinger raves, "Tasted like a cross between an apple and peach pie. Great!"
The kiwi's origin lies in China's Yangtze river valley, where it was once known as the gooseberry. Given the unappealing connotations of "gooseberry," it's no wonder New Zealand growers were able to hijack it in one of agriculture's most legendary rebrands. So it may not be tropical, but kiwi is certainly exotic.
Home cook lkoeppen315 offers this helpful suggestion to simplify prep: "When you blend the kiwis with honey, puree the kiwis first, THEN put the honey in. I put the honey in first, and it all sunk to the bottom of the processor."
One big dose of creamy coconut decadence, coming right up! We like reviewer LORRIEC13's idea of using about 15 oz. of coconut milk in place of the cream. Because more is more when it comes to a rich coconut recipe like this.
Home cook Michele C. says, "I made this for Thanksgiving and both the pies were gone before I even got a slice! I had to make it again for my kids and so I could try it a few days later and this has to be the best pie I have ever had!"
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