I’ve been thinking a lot about summer, ever since the first warm day lifted my spirits a few weeks ago. I’ve also been thinking about our seasonal amnesia, though, where we can’t quite remember what we used to do and eat (and wear!) in seasons beside the one we’re currently in. Does that happen to you?
And so, in trying to come up with a dessert that would delight us all, all summer long, I had to really sit back and think. I scratched my head. I drank some chocolate milk. I curled up in the chair in our bedroom, whose excessive and uncontrollable heat resembles the weather in the tropics.
And then, in my mind, I went to Mexico. Oaxaca, circa 2002. It was hot. After a morning at the market, eating fried squash flowers, my family and I followed Susana Trilling, author of Seasons of My Heart, to her house, for a cooking class. I remember toasting pumpkin seeds on the comal and making mole from them. And I remember a mango trifle that ended the meal in the most delicious, abundant, surprising fashion. I hadn’t expected to see something as British as a trifle appear in the Mexican countryside.
What stuck with me most about Susana’s dessert was how perfectly cool and rich the combination of mango and cream turned out to be. So perfect, I stole it, and in the dessert I made for you today, two mangos, pureed, get folded into cream and mascarpone, for a hauntingly honey-like mousse that’s arguably better than the orange-cream pairing of a Creamsicle.
Rather than mimicking a full-on trifle, I layered this mango cream with lady fingers, as if I were making tiramisu. Instead of coffee, I brushed the lady fingers with coconut milk and rum. Thanks to some smart recommendations from the twitter-verse, I also added cardamom to the creamy mango mixture, a spice that works beautifully with the tropical fruit.
All in all, the dessert really just screams summer to me. No bake. Not much prep time. The ability to make and assemble up to 24 hours before eating. All of which makes the mango pudding a brilliant way to celebrate the upcoming season, which is just what Whole Foods has asked a bunch of us to do–to get ourselves and all of you hyped up for the beautiful bounty of summer we’re about to experience. I could see this Creamy Mango Pudding on the table at the end of your Memorial Day barbecue, your Fourth of July feast, your Labor Day dinner–or any festive summer party in between. You can check out Whole Foods’ site celebrating all things summer here and follow along on Pinterest too.
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Creamy Mango Pudding
Serves about 12
You want your mangos really ripe: soft, juicy, and fragrant. Leave them on the counter to finish ripening for a few days if you’re not sure. If you can neatly chop the mango, it’s not ripe enough.
2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (buy the mini 5.46 ounce can from Thai Kitchen)
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 ripe mangos
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, plus more for garnish
7 ounces crunchy lady finger cookies (one package)
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces mascarpone
In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk with 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and the run. Set aside.
Cut the mango flesh from the pit. Scoop the flesh into the blender. Blend the mangos with 1/4 cup sugar and cardamom and a few tablespoons of the cream if needed. With a handheld or stand mixer (or a whisk and your very strong arm), whip the last 1/4 cup sugar into the mascarpone in a large mixing bowl. Place the heavy cream in a second bowl with a pinch of salt and whip that until it’s nearly stiff. Scrape both the mango puree and the whipped cream into the bowl with the mascarpone and continue to beat for 30 seconds to a minute, until well combined with no lumps from the mascarpone.
In a 9-by-9-inch baking dish, layer half the lady fingers on the bottom, then brush generously with half of the coconut mixture. It’s okay if it pools around the cookies. Allow a few minutes for the moisture to be absorbed by the cookies. Then, top with half of the whipped cream-mascarpone mixture and spread to the edges. Layer the remaining lady fingers over the top, and brush them with the remaining coconut-rum mixture (again, allow time for the liquid to be absorbed and don’t worry if some of it pools). Top with the remaining whipped cream-mascarpone-mango mixture. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4 hours or up to 28. You could serve as quickly as an hour after making, but the pudding will get better and better as it chills. Remove from the fridge a few minutes before serving, and sift some extra cardamom on top. Cut into small squares (this is rich!).
**Food Network Sensational Sides**
This post is part of FN’s weekly round-up. Today’s theme is No-Cook. See what everyone else made below!
Weelicious: Lemony Quinoa Salad
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: “Mixed Bag” Kale Salad
Cooking With Elise: Macerated Berries with Creamy Fruit Dip
Devour: Four Reasons Not to Turn on Your Oven
Dishin & Dishes: Herbed Yogurt Cheese
Taste With The Eyes: Fennel, Mushroom, Watercress, Parmesan and Walnut Salad
Virtually Homemade: Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake
Domesticate Me: Shaved Vegetable Salad with Faro and Pecans
FN Dish: A Whole Week of No-Cook Sides