Weekend Baking: Coconut Shortbread Tartlets filled with Mango Curd

There’s something about Spring, with all of its celebrations that pull friends and family together, beginning with Easter, then Mother’s Day, followed by graduations and wedding showers, that just seem to demand tiny sweet desserts. Desserts that can be picked up and popped into the mouth and disappear as fast as a bag of M&M’s.

Shortbread is one of my favorite spring desserts. So rich and buttery and short on sugar, the cookie-like sweet pairs well with berries and citrus curds. This spring, I’ve added coconut to my shortbread recipe. Pressed into mini-muffin cups, the dough bakes up nicely, turning a golden brown. I’ve discovered lovely mango curd (recipe is in my last post) is absolutely luscious as a filling for these bite-sized coconut shortbread cups.

One of the things I appreciate about shortbread, besides its versatility, is the fact the dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for a couple of days, or slipped into a freezer-strength zip-top bag and kept frozen for a few months. Mixing this shortbread takes no time at all in the food processor.

Once baked, the empty shortbread cups can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. So, for those special occasions when you are expecting many guests, you can make and bake shortbread cups at your leisure, stocking up for the big day.

I plan to have a small supply of baked Coconut Shortbread Tartlets in the freezer this spring. Once mango season has come to an end, the little cups will be ready to fill with lemon curd and berries or homemade ice cream with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce. Or chocolate mousse. Or, how about mini banana cream pies?

Coconut Shortbread Tartlets with Mango Curd Filling

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (2 1/4 sticks), chilled
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Mango Curd
  • Whipped cream, fresh mango bits and mint leaves, for garnish

Cut butter into small chunks. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, powdered sugar and salt until well combined. Add coconut and pulse a few times. In a small bowl, whisk together yolks, ice water and vanilla until combined well. Add to flour mixture in food processor and pulse until incorporated.

Form dough into a ball. Divide into two equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap each disk of dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to a week.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Form one disk of dough into 36 equal -sized balls, keeping remaining disk of dough wrapped and chilled. Press dough balls into bottom and up sides of 36 ungreased mini-muffin cups (measuring about 1 3/4 inches across the top and about 1 inch deep). Prick bottom of shortbread shells with a wooden pick. Chill for 15 minutes, or until firm. Bake in middle of preheated 400-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool in cups on rack.

At this point, cooled shortbread cups can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for a month or two or they can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container for a few days.

When ready to serve, fill each shortbread cup with Mango Curd. Garnish as desired and serve.

The full batch of dough will make 6 dozen shortbread tartlets. You will probably need a double batch of Mango Curd to fill all 6 dozen. One batch is plenty for 1 disk of dough, or 36 tartlets.

You’ll find more shortbread and citrus curd recipes on these older posts on my blog:

Orange Shortbread Bites with Orange Curd

Espresso-Cocoa Nib Shortbread Bites

Raspberry Ribbons

Lemon Curd Breakfast Parfaits

Lemon-Filled Coconut Meringues with Chantilly Cream and Fresh Raspberries

Mango Curd-Filled Tropical Baby Cakes

Velvety smooth, thick and creamy, soft and spreadable, sweet and tart — all characteristics of a good lemon curd. Every year around this time, I pull out my favorite recipe for lemon curd. Last week, I adapted that recipe to create a mouth-watering bowl of mango curd. A kiss of citrus from lemon and lime juices gives this creamy tropical curd just enough tartness to balance the sweet-as-honey mango.

Spread this Mango Curd on scones, banana muffins or bran muffins. Use it to fill tiny tarts or little thumbprint cookies. Sandwich it between butter cookies or spread it on shortbread.

Mango Curd is quite sublime with Tropical Mango Baby Cakes. In my column this week, I baked the cake batter in mini-bundt pans. The next batch of batter was baked in traditional cupcake tins. The cupcakes can be cut through the middle to form two layers. The Mango Curd is a perfect filling. Sprinkle the little cakes with powdered sugar and they are ready to eat.

The only thing that could possibly make this curd any more delectable would be folding some whipped cream into the pudding-like bowl of the mango-based mixture, creating mango cream.

Mango Curd is for all who just can’t get enough of the lovely mango that is in season and looking pretty in grocery stores right now.

Mango Curd

  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 3 large eggs

Puree mango chunks in blender or food processor. You should have about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of puree. Set aside.

Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Add sugar, lemon juice, lime juice and zest. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a simmer. Add pureed mango and bring to simmer.

In a bowl or 4-cup glass measure, whisk eggs together. Gradually whisk in hot mango mixture and blend well. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it just begins to bubble. Pour mango curd through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and cool slightly. Chill mango curd, its surface covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours, or until cold. Makes about 1 1/4 cups of mango curd.

Those who enjoy mangoes, will be interested in these recipes from earlier posts:

Honey Mango Crisp, Mango and Banana Chutney, Tropical Cream Phyllo Tarts with Grilled Mango and Pineapple, Mango Soup with Coconut Cream, My Dad’s Banana Muffins with A tropical Twist

Weekend Baking: Honey Mango Crisp

Honey Mango Crisp is a dessert I had no intention of preparing when I got out of bed on Thursday morning. It was not on my “To Do” list for the day. The product of a few experiences I’ve had during the past year, Honey Mango Crisp came about very unexpectedly.

It began last May when I asked a local, very experienced beekeeper if I could watch as he introduced a new bunch of honeybees to one of his hives. I’ve always been a little afraid of bees, worrying about getting stung. The thought of being so close to thousands of honeybees all gathered in one small box scared me half to death. But I was curious and wanted to learn more about this beekeeping hobby that country folks and city dwellers were grabbing onto.

All the bees in the box above, along with their queen, would continue as roommates in their new hive, a tall white box that reminded me of a file cabinet. Beekeeper, Jon, suited me up with a white outfit and headpiece with face screen that would protect me from the bees. I was told to never wear dark colors when visiting a beehive. The bees may think you are a bear and go into attack mode.

This story is getting long and I know you’re probably wondering when I’ll get to the Honey Mango Crisp. I’m getting there. After being close-up with honeybees, swiping honey with my finger right off the frame pulled from a beehive and sucking the thick, golden syrup from my finger, I was hooked.

I was very apprehensive, watching from a distance as Jon, the beekeeper, slid the frames into the hive, bees buzzing. I did not know I had bees on my suit at the time. Yikes!

Since that time last year I’ve done some reading, exploring the whole beekeeping thing a little more seriously and becoming more intrigued.

This week I attended a beekeeping class, part of the Spring Adventures in Lifelong Learning series in Bemidji. Two experienced beekeepers did an excellent job of explaining the hive, the bees and the hobby. As I was leaving the class, a woman asked me if I had a recipe for Honey Cake. She explained that during World War II, when sugar was rationed, home bakers made cakes with honey. She wished she had a recipe.

The next day I was poring through old cookbooks from my great-aunt, my aunt and my mom, thinking I’d come across a recipe for honey cake. I didn’t. But I did find a recipe for Honey Apple Crisp in a cookbook published in 1940. And, because I had some ripe, sweet, juicy mangoes on my counter and because I had some luscious local honey in my pantry, I decided to modify the 1940′s apple recipe and create Honey Mango Crisp.

It took little time to create this marvelous Crisp with a tropical flair. Since mangoes are so much sweeter than most varieties of apples used for baking, I omitted the sugar in the old recipe, using just a small amount of brown sugar in the crumb topping. I also added shredded coconut to the topping.

The mangoes release sweet juice as they bake. The topping becomes toasted and crunchy. My husband came home from work and dug right into the warm crisp with a spoon, filling a shallow bowl and downing the small serving in no time. He went back to the dish a second time. Between “Wows” and “Oh, mans” I reminded him I was taking the Honey Mango Crisp for the students in my cooking class to taste. Good thing I had at least taken a picture of the just-out- of-the-oven Honey Mango Crisp, because I didn’t have a bit to bring home after class. All students wholeheartedly approved .

The only thing that could possibly make this dessert any better would be tiny scoops of coconut or ginger ice cream melting over the top of each serving.

From time with a beekeeper to beekeeping class to a quest for honey cake — a very accidental route to Honey Mango Crisp. I’m sure this isn’t the end of my honeybee story.

And, my search continues for a Honey Cake recipe.

You can watch as I prepare individual-serving-sized Honey Mango Crisps on a segment of Lakeland Cooks. Click here.

Honey Mango Crisp

  • 4 cups peeled and sliced ripe mangoes
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round glass baking dish or pie dish. Pile mango slices into buttered baking dish. Pour honey over the mango slices.

In a mini-food processor, whirl flour, brown sugar and salt to mix. Cut butter into small pieces. Add to food processor. Process until mixture forms buttery crumbs. Add coconut and process with one or two pulses. Alternatively, mix ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives. Clean fingers work well, too.

Sprinkle topping evenly over honey-topped mangoes in baking dish.

Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Key West Caterer’s Sesame Almond Chicken with Mango Banana Chutney

Attending a conference or seminar that includes food in the registration fee can be a bit risky when it comes to the food part. I’ve learned through past experiences to go into it with low expectations. After all, eating at catered events puts you at the whim of a caterer who is working with the budget of the event planners. Results could be good or bad.

The Key West Literary Seminar I attended a couple of weeks ago included catered breakfasts, receptions and a lunch. I knew I was in for a few days of wonderful food when I attended the opening night outdoor reception and met the caterer, Chef Jennifer Cornell, owner of Small Chef at Large Catering in Key West.

Cornell’s philosophy of offering her clients food that is light, lively and exciting was unmistakably evident at the reception that first night. Strategically placed tables along the brick pathway in the Tropical Garden at the Audubon House were swelling with an abundance of fresh and carefully prepared foods.

Several days later, I had an opportunity to visit with Cornell at her office. She’s organized, she cares about her clients and she loves what she does. And, she’s had years of experience cooking for the enjoyment of others. Cornell moved to Key West from Costa Rica 10 years ago. She did an internship in St. Croix and has traveled the Caribbean, cooking from island to island.

Her jobs include many outdoor weddings in Key West. One of her specialties is a romantic dinner for two on the beach. Can you just imagine?

Jennifer Cornell shared two of her recipes with me. I used her recipe for Wasabi Cheese spread in my column this week. It was one of my favorites at the champagne reception the first night of the seminar.

She says the Sesame Almond Chicken is always a favorite at parties. It’s an example of the exciting island-inspired foods she offers.

The recipe calls for 8-ounce chicken breasts. The ones I used were each 6 ounces, more than enough per each serving. Just a little bit of the almond and sesame seed coating were left in the pie plate after I covered each breast with the mixture. My large cast iron pan was perfect for sauteing and baking the chicken.

I got the chutney mixture on the stove, first. I must say the mango I picked up at the grocery store left a lot to be desired. It was a little on the hard side, not quite ripe. None of those at the store I was shopping in were ripe and in this frigid weather, I wasn’t in the mood for running around to other stores in search of the perfect mango. I knew the fruit would soften up and take on the flavors of the other ingredients it was cooking with.

I also put a pot of brown rice on to cook while the chutney was simmering. The brown rice takes about the same amount of time to cook as the chutney. While the two pots were on the flames, I prepared the chicken breasts.

The moist chicken breasts had a wonderful mouth feel with the crunchy texture of the sesame seeds and almonds. The chutney reminded me of a good sweet and sour sauce, with more sweet than sour. The banana flavor came through without overpowering the other flavors. Next time I might add more jalapeno. My batch of chutney had no heat at all. I chopped the banana rather than slicing it into rounds as directed in the recipe.

If you bought sweet chili sauce and toasted sesame oil to make Jennifer Cornell’s recipe for Wasabi Cheese in my column this week, stir some of it into cooked brown rice and serve it with the chicken and chutney. I cooked 1 cup of brown rice and added about 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of sweet chili sauce and about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to the cooked rice. Just add amounts of each ingredient to satisfy your own taste preference.

Sesame Almond Chicken with Mango Banana Chutney, brown rice, a salad of greens, toasted slivered almonds and fruit with mango vinaigrette, and for dessert, a large scoop of Chocolate Cuslato. Can’t get much better than that on a cold winter weekend in Minnesota.

Sesame Almond Chicken with Mango and Banana Chutney

(Recipe courtesy of Chef Jennifer Cornell, Small Chef at Large Catering, Key West Florida)

  • 4 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup crushed almonds (crush slivered almonds in food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Rinse the chicken. Combine the bread crumbs, almonds and sesame seeds in a shallow bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Place one chicken breast in the bowl and press the bread crumb mixture hard into the breast on both sides so it is well coated. Repeat with the other three breasts. Refrigerate while making the chutney.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and saute until nicely browned on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees. Remove from the oven and place on 4 plates. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons chutney on top. Serves 4.

Mango Banana Chutney

  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 large mango, small dice
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup mango or orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until thick, 30 to 45 minutes.

Mango Dressing in minutes (you really don’t need a recipe)

As soon as the weather heats up, my kitchen cools down. I try to use the oven less, opting more often for the grill on the deck. The burners on the stove are used as little as possible. Often, salads become the entree on the dinner table.

The gardens in my area are beginning to come alive with fresh herbs, chives and even spinach. The other day I  tossed baby spinach leaves together with some things I had in my refrigerator — thin slices of red onion, red bell pepper, Ataulfo (Adolfoa) mangoes, half a jalapeno pepper, an avocado and roasted cashews.

After that, all I needed was good vinaigrette to dress the salad. You don’t really need a recipe to whip up a nice oil and vinegar dressing to suit your taste. I normally begin with 2 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part vinegar. From there it just takes a little something to sweeten it up, a bit of some savory flavor from herbs or mustard or garlic and some salt and pepper.

With some very ripe avocadoes on my counter, I decided to not only include some in the salad, but also in the dressing. Use the recipe only as a guide. Play around with it until it is just perfect for your tastebuds.  If you don’t have mangoes, how about peaches or maybe fresh berries? Peeled and thinly sliced apples or pears that have been cooked to tenderness are flavorful options. Since I had roasted garlic in my refrigerator, I squeezed some of the sweet cloves into the dressing. Raw garlic will be stronger, but can easily be used in the vinaigrette.

When prepared in a blender, this Mango Dressing becomes thick and creamy. It’s not bad on a veggie or meat sandwich and, believe it or not, it is amazing drizzled over poached eggs.

Once you discover how easy it is to make your own vinaigrette, you may decide it’s the only kind you want to use on the salads you toss together.

Mango Dressing

  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped, peeled mango
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put vinegar, mango, garlic, and mustard in a blender container. Puree the mixture until smooth. Add honey and fresh thyme and blend. Remove small insert from top of blender and with blender running, pour olive oil in a steady stream through the opening. The mixture will become thick and creamy. Use a spoon to taste the dressing. Add some salt and pepper. Taste again. Make up your mind that the salad dressing is perfect before you pour it into a jar and refrigerate.

 

Flake, flake. Crunch, crunch. Tropical Cream Phyllo Tarts. Yum, yum.

 Flake, flake, crunch, crunch. Buttery thin layers of pastry that melt in your mouth. That’s phyllo dough.

After making Chocolate Banana Strudel for this week’s food column, several sheets of phyllo were wrapped up and sealed in a zip-top bag in my refrigerator. Although thawed phyllo dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a month, I was anxious to use it up.

One of the things I appreciate about phyllo is its versatility. It can be wrapped around sweet or savory ingredients. It can be rolled into logs, folded into triangles or layered in a baking dish to form a thin, delicate crust.

To make Tropical Cream Phyllo Tarts, the phyllo is shaped into cups to hold creamy filling. I layered three sheets of phyllo, brushing melted between each layer. The sheets are cut into 4 equal pieces. Each piece is gently pushed into a buttered cup of a muffin tin and then baked. This step can be done ahead of serving time. If you make them early in the day, just let them sit out on a cooling rack on the counter.

The pudding mixture can also be prepared early in the day. You can fold in the whipped cream when it’s time to put the dessert together. Tropical Cream is quick to make with instant vanilla pudding mix. I enhanced the tropical flavors of the dessert by adding some Zola Tropical Blend Energy smoothie. I had some in my refrigerator. (A few sips in the afternoon is a refreshing pick-me-up.)  I find Zola in the refrigerated case in my local grocery store. If I hadn’t had the Zola on hand, I would have used pineapple juice.

Fruit becomes sweeter when it is grilled. I hadn’t had grilled pineapple since last summer. I almost forgot how delicious it is. I had never thought about grilling mango, but it works.

To prepare the fresh pineapple for grilling, cut off the top and base. Use a sharp knife to cut wide strips of the peel away from the fruit. Cut just deep enough to remove the skin. Remove any remaining little eyes with the tip of the knife. Slice the pineapple into 8 disks. Then use a coring tool or sharp paring knife to remove the tough center portion of each disk. I find that a small (1 1/2-inch) round cookie cutter works great for this job.

To get the mango ready for grilling, just cut off the stem end to form a flat base. Stand the mango upright on work surface. Cut both cheeks away from the flat pit inside, getting as close as you can to the pit. Use a grapefruit spoon or a teaspoon to slide underneath the fruit, gently removing it from the skin. You’ll wind up with two large pieces of mango to put on the grill.

This is a great do-ahead dessert. Phyllo cups can be prepared early in the day along with the Tropical Cream. Get the fruit ready so that at serving time, all you have to do is brush the pieces with butter and place them on the grill.

Tropical Cream Phyllo Tarts with Grilled Mango and Pineapple are light and refreshing.

Flake, flake. Crunch, crunch. Yum, yum.

Tropical Cream Phyllo Tarts with Grilled Mango and Pineapple

  • 6 sheets phyllo dough
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 (3.4-ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice or Tropical Blend Smoothie (such as Zola brand)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 whole ripe pineapple
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 8 whole strawberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 8 cups of a muffin tin with some of the melted butter.

Place one sheet of phyllo dough on work surface. Brush it lightly with melted butter, then lay a second sheet on top. Brush with melted butter. Lay third sheet on top and brush with melted butter. Cut phyllo in half crosswise and then lengthwise to create 4 equal pieces. Press each piece into a buttered muffin cup. Repeat with remaining 3 sheets of phyllo.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until phyllo is golden brown. Carefully remove phyllo cups from muffin tin and cool on wire rack.

Combine pudding mix, milk and juice in a large bowl. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in sour cream. Cover pudding mixture and refrigerate.

Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium to medium-high heat. Brush pineapple and mango with remaining melted butter and place directly on grill rack. Grill about 2 minutes per side, or until fruit is heated through and cut sides are golden.

Remove pudding mixture from refrigerator and fold in whipped cream.

Place a slice of grilled pineapple on each dessert plate. Chop grilled mango into small chunks. Spoon tropical cream into each phyllo tart. Place a filled tart on top of each pineapple slice. Arrange chopped mango around outside of tart. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of coconut over each tart and around pineapple slice. Top each Tropical Cream Tart with a whole fresh strawberry. Serves 8.

  • I like to toast coconut by placing it in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring until golden. As soon as it reaches the color I want, I transfer it to a shallow dish to cool.

 

 

They’re my dad’s banana muffins (with a tropical twist)

My favorite banana muffins in the whole world have always been the ones my dad called his own. I don’t remember a time that he ever made them, but still, he called the moist muffins his banana muffins.

With pride in his voice, he would tell us the same story each time we ate the muffins. He was just a young boy when he invented the recipe in his mom’s kitchen. He mixed them up and baked them himself. Apparently, though, when he got married, he passed the banana muffin-making over to his wife. And so, for years, my mom made my dad’s banana muffins. My brother and I, along with my dad, would eat the muffins up in no time. They were delicious.

I’m not so sure my dad would approve of me playing around with his recipe. I’m in the midst of mango madness. I couldn’t stop myself from stirring some chunks of fresh mango into my dad’s banana muffins. Since I had half a can of cream of coconut in my refrigerator, leftover from the coconut cream custard I made for the mango soup (see previous post), I decided to stir some of that into the batter, too.

The new version of my dad’s banana muffins took on a tropical flair. They are still moist and full of great flavor. I’ve discovered the blacker the bananas look, the more pronounced the banana flavor will be in the baked muffins. When the last of a bunch of bananas starts to look too dark to eat, I put them in a zip-top freezer bag and pop them into the freezer. When I’m ready to start making muffins, I take them out of the freezer and let them thaw a little bit. I cut off the top end of each banana and squeeze the mushy banana right into the mixing bowl. Easy.

Next time I make the muffins with cream of coconut, I will stir in some chopped macadamia nuts and maybe some shredded coconut.

If you don’t have cream of coconut on hand, you can leave it out and increase the sugar from 1/2 cup to 1 cup.

Be sure the mango you use is ripe, juicy and sweet.

And remember — they’re my dad’s banana muffins (with a tropical twist). I’m pretty sure he’d like them.

P.S. Be sure to check out the Mango and Shrimp Quesadillas in my column this week. They would be perfect to serve at a Cinco de Mayo party.

My Dad’s Banana Muffins (with a tropical twist) or

Coconut Cream Banana Mango Muffins

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut (such as Coco Casa)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe mango, chopped (1 cup)
  • Turbinado sugar or sparkling sugar for sprinkling on muffin tops

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.

In small bowl, combine yogurt or sour cream and baking soda. Mix well and set aside.

In mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until incorporated. Add cream of coconut and blend. Add eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla, lime juice, and yogurt and baking soda. Mix well. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Stir just until all the dry ingredients have disappeared into the batter. Stir in mangoes.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins to 3/4 full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with some turbinado sugar or sparkling sugar. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from muffin tins and cool on wire rack.

These muffins freeze well.

Mango Soup…Hot, Hot, Hot!

There are two things in my world that tell me spring is officially here. One, the call of the loons wake me from my morning slumber as they float on the river just outside my window. That just happened Wednesday morning. Two, the small juicy yellow-skinned mangoes are ready to purchase by the case at my favorite little Asian market in Fargo. Done. Spring is here.

This year the mangoes are from Mexico and are called Adolfo (Ataulfo). I’ve seen some that look similar that are called Champagne mangoes. All I know for sure is that these small mangoes are the sweetest and juiciest I’ve ever tasted.

If the mangoes you bring home from the store look like the ones pictured above, let them sit out at room temperatue until the skins get all wrinkled with a few little brown spots. Then you will know the mangoes are sweet and ready to eat.

I decided to prepare a savory mango soup for a Caribbean-themed dinner I was planning to attend. To add some coconut flavor to the finished soup, I tried to recreate a coconut custard I recently tasted.

While I was working in Minneapolis last week, I had the opportunity to have dinner at Heidi’s, a cozy little restaurant near 50th and Penn. The food was fantastic. I was especially smitten by my entree. Sauteed halibut on a Haupia cake was that evening’s special. The haupia cake was made of coconut custard that had been cut into a plank, coated with Panko and fried.

I wanted some of that coconut custard to top my hot mango soup.

I cooked up some custard using coconut milk, coconut cream and a little curry paste for some kick, thickening the mixture with cornstarch.

The mango soup is very easy to make, but the real key is to use the ripest, sweetest and juiciest mangoes you can get your hands on. I’ve had an opened container of tamarind paste/concentrate in my refrigerator for ages and am always trying to think of ways to use it up. It’s very tart, so 1 teaspoon in this soup is just right. It balances so nicely with the sweet mangoes.

Top each bowl of hot soup with a small scoop of Coconut Cream Custard. Garnish with a curl of lime. Serve. And then, just listen to all those satisfied ooohs and aaaahs and sighs.

It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy.

At the Caribbean dinner it will be served just before Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Salsa and Curried Citrus Rice, all prepared by our host. I’ll be sure to give you a report on the whole meal.

I plan to make the soup again while my favorite mangoes are still available and serve it with some spiced and grilled shrimp.

Coconut Cream Custard

  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 8 ounces cornstarch
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not the Lite style)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 of a 16-ounce can of Coco Casa Coconut Cream
  • 1 teaspoon curry paste

Using a fork, mix cornstarch with 1 cup of water, stirring to dissolve cornstarch. Set aside.

In a medium saucepot, mix coconut milk, sugar and remining 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Pour cornstarch mixture into the hot liquid, stirring constantly with a fork or wire whisk. When mixture is quite smooth, return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cream of coconut and curry paste. Set aside while preparing cooling dish.

Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or waxed paper. Pour coconut custard into lined dish. Press a piece of waxed paper over the top of the custard so it is completely sealed. Chill in refrigerator until firm.

Custard can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator until time to serve the soup.

 Smooth & Savory Mango Soup with a Coconut Cream Dollop

  • 5 medium-sized white onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 6 very ripe Adolfo (Ataulfo) mangoes, peeled, seed removed, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Lime zest for garnish, if desired 

In a soup pot, melt butter. Saute chopped onions in butter until tender but not brown. Add chopped mangoes and minced serrano. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add chicken broth. Bring soup to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tamarind paste, salt and pepper.

Puree soup in blender in several small batches. I always cover the lid of the blender with my kitchen towel before I turn it on, just in case that hot soup spurts out of the top.

To serve, ladle hot soup into serving bowls. Place a small scoop of Coconut Cream Custard on each serving. Garnish with a curl of lime zest, if desired.