Cheesecake with Roasted Pineapple and Pineapple Flowers

 

crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

filling
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp good vanilla extract)
2 large eggs.
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
 
topping
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch thicks rounds and cored with a small cookie/biscuit cutter
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rum

flowers
1 pineapple

For Crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend all ingredients in a 9" cheesecake pan and press the mixture over the bottom and about an inch up the sides.  Bake until golden, about 12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.  Carefully wrap outside of pan with 2 layers of heavy duty foil.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For Filling:  Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Split vanilla bean down the middle with a sharp paring knife.  Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and blend 1 minute.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time and then beat in sour cream.  Transfer filling to crust.  Place cheesecake in roasting pan.  Add enough hot water to the roasting pan so that the water comes up the side of the cheesecake pan about 1 inch.

Bake cheesecake for one hour.  Turn off oven and let cake cool in closed oven for one hour. Remove from water bath and refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

For Topping:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place pineapple rings on large rimmed baking sheet.  Boil  remaining ingredients in a small saucepan  for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour syrup over pineapple.  Roast pineapple 12 minutes.  Turn rings over and roast until tender and syrup thickens, turning rings every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes longer.  Cool pineapple on sheet.  Cut into small pieces or larger 1/3 inch cubes, whichever you prefer.  Transfer pineapple and syrup to bowl.  (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)

Drain pineapple, reserving syrup.  Cover top of cheesecake with some pineapple; stir remainder back into syrup.  Serve cake, passing remaining pineapple in syrup separately.

For Flowers:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. 

Peel pineapples.  Using a small melon baller or the eye remover on a vegetable peeler, remove and discard eyes of pineapple.  Slice pineapple very thinly, preferably with a mandoline.  Place slices on baking sheets.  Cook until tops look dried, about 30 minutes.  Flip slices; cook for 30 minutes more.  Flip slices again and cook another 30 minutes more until completely dried. Before the final flip, place a small ball of rolled up tin foil under the "flower" if you would like to mold it to be more of a flower shape.  Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.