Baking for Bookworms: Crystalized Pineapple from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Happy Halloween, everyone! This is one of my favorite holidays, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with some sweet treats. Since the base of these lovely sweets is pineapple (which is a fruit, so it’s healthy…) you’ll get a wonderful tangy treat to go with your caramel apples, popcorn balls, and chocolate.

Crystallized pineapple makes its appearance in the sixth Harry Potter book. It is Professor Slughorn’s favorite treat, and is symbolic of the lengths that Slughorn has gone in the past for his favorites, and of what they give him in return. Harry describes him as a giant spider in the middle of the web, pulling strings in exchange for favors and material rewards.

The pineapple becomes more important in the memory that Slughorn gives Dumbledore and later gives Harry in its more complete version. It shows how people can be blinded by flattery and favors, and it creates a lasting image of Slughorn unwittingly giving Riddle the information he so craves, down to his sticky fingers coated in sugar.

Harry sees Slughorn interact with the young Riddle when he travels with Dumbledore through the Pensieve:

“‘Sir, is it true that Professor Merrythought is retiring?’ [Riddle] asked.

‘Tom, Tom, if I knew I couldn’t tell you,’ said Slughorn, wagging a reproving, sugar-covered finger at Riddle, though ruining the effect slightly by winking. ‘I must say, I’d like to know where you get your information, boy, more knowledgeable than half the staff, you are.’

Riddle smiled; the other boys laughed and cast him admiring looks.

‘What with your uncanny ability to know things you shouldn’t, and your careful flattery of the people who matter–thank you for the pineapple, by the way, you’re quite right, it is my favorite–‘”                                                                                                           (370)

Whether you use this treat to get information out of someone or simply to revel in its deliciousness while you cry and watch sad movies…. we’ll employ a don’t ask, don’t tell policy (or as Fred would say, I’ll ask no questions, and you’ll tell me no lies).

This is a very simple, if time-consuming recipe.

You’ll need

  • sugar
  • water
  • 1 tbs corn syrup
  • 1-2 capfuls coconut rum (optional)
  • pineapple (you can use fresh or canned. I personally advocate fresh, that way it won’t get quite as sweet, but it’s up to you. I used cut, fresh spears and chopped them into chunks.

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Cut your pineapple into rings or chunks about 1/2 inch thick. If you’re using canned pineapple, open and drain.

You want to cover your pineapple, so the amount of sugar and water you’ll need will vary. Use two cups of water for every one cup of sugar. I used a 4-2 ratio, but could easily have used 3-1.5 or even 2-1.

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Bring your sugar, water, corn syrup, and rum (if using) to a boil over medium heat. If you have a candy thermometer you can use that. You’re looking for about a 220-235F reading.Once it’s boiling, add the pineapple (and some more rum if you’re feeling saucy) and turn the heat to low.

Cover the pot and let simmer for one hour. Drain pineapple (but keep the syrup–you can use it for cocktails, homemade sodas, ice cream topping, put it in with some chicken or fish as a marinade, use it in a smoothie–the point is don’t waste it. If you do make this recipe and you reuse your syrup, share what you did with it in the comments).

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Since my cooling racks are coated and therefore not oven safe, I used this roasting pan. But if you have plain metal cooling racks, those work best.

Put the pineapple on a cooling rack. From here, you can pop it in a food dehydrator like my Nana has, or if you’re like me and you don’t have one, set the oven to 200F and let it dehydrate in there.

Check the pineapple every hour or so. It should take about four hours (or a little more) to dry out. You can sprinkle the pineapple with a little extra sugar and store it in an airtight container. It should last a while, but I doubt it will once people know there’s crystalized pineapple in the house.

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Recipe adapted from this one at Dumbledore’s Vegan Army

What’s your favorite Halloween treat? Let me know in the comments.

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