Champagne Mangoes and a Glorious Mango Curd

mango curd macaron dish

When we were in Mexico City last year with our friends, Cali and Alex, we were introduced to the ultimate mango.  Small, lemon yellow and sweeter than a peach.  Cali showed us that there was a specific mango fork that you need to peel it properly, and then she went on to show the proper way to peel and dice up these golden nuggets of wonder. She is my unofficial mango-expert.  I will forever associate her with this wonderful fruit and every time I peel one, I always think, “Is this how Cali would do it?”   I had never experienced a mango like the ones in Mexico, before, and when we got back home, I was on the look out.  I was so excited to see one that looked very similar at the grocery store called Champagne mangoes, and the next time Cali came over, I had her confirm its validity.  We had a winner!  So now, whenever I see that they are in abundance at the store, I get a half dozen.  The last time I did, I let them go too long before eating them, and faced the fear of letting them go bad.

So, I decided that I wanted to make a mango curd.  I looked up a recipe and it called for 15 ounces of mango and that’s exactly how much I had.  The recipe turned out so well, I filled macarons with it and also filled citrus cupcakes with the curd and topped them in coconut cream cheese frosting.  Epic win for the cupcakes, epic fail on the macarons.  The macarons tasted great, but the cookie itself didn’t turn out very well.  They all went hollow!  I have made macaron cookies before and the best I can describe them is that they are the croissant of cookies.  Every batch is different, every recipe is different and their success depends on so many factors, it’s a little maddening. The quality of the ingredients, the humidity in your kitchen, the exact temp of your oven, etc, etc, etc.  I surprised myself and didn’t FREAK OUT when the first batch of cookies EXPLODED, the second batch was pretty perfect, and the third batch baked like the first.  A true testament to how baking is a fickle beast.  They at least looked pretty:

mango curd macarons

The cupcakes, on the other hand, were a no-brainer.  I took a basic yellow cake recipe and added in Fiori di Sicilia, then made a cream cheese frosting, added a bit of coconut extract and topped each with toasted coconut after filling the cupcakes with the mango curd.  Such a wonderful combination, that I wanted to share those recipes with you, today, but mainly, this mango curd is the winner.  A week later, I still had some in a jar so they were put on some buttermilk pancakes this morning with fresh blueberries and slices of Champagne mangoes, of course.

mango curd cupcakes

mango cupcakes

Champagne Mango Curd*

Makes 1 to 1.5 cups

15-ounces ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (It took 5 Champagne mangoes)
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Puree mango, sugar, lime juice and salt in processor, scraping down sides of work bowl occasionally. Add yolks; puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large metal bowl, pressing on solids with back of spatula to release as much puree as possible. Discard solids in sieve.

Set metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., about 10 minutes. Remove from over water. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

*taken from Smitten Kitchen, who took it from Bon Appetit

Citrus Cupcakes*

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, or 1/2 tsp orange extract + 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12-16 muffin tins, or just line with cupcake liners and spray those with non-stick spray.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and extracts and beat until just combined.
Divide batter among cups; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely before filling.

*adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Coconut Frosting*

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp coconut extract

1/2 cup coconut, toasted, for topping cupcakes

Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, milk, and vanilla, coconut extract and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

*adapted from Martha Stewart Living

To Assemble:

I used the large tip from my piping bag to cut out the centers of my cupcakes and I really went pretty much to the bottom of each cupcake with the cut.  The curd is pretty runny out of the piping bag, so I had to hold it up in the air between fillings.  I inserted the tip of the piping bag and slowly squeezed until the sides of the cupcake bulged a bit.  I like filling.  Then, I just smoothed the frosting on top of each cupcake and sprinkled with toasted coconut.

mango cupcake with coconut frosting

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Cappuccino Chocolate Cake

cappcake3

Some things get better with time: wine, cheese, beards…this cake.  I made it on Sunday afternoon and we had a piece and it was extremely good, but we wrapped it up and let it sit in the fridge for a few days and THEN it was something to behold.  The layers meld into one another after a couple days in the fridge.  The whipped cream softens the layers of chocolate cake and it transforms into a Swiss Cake Roll/Tirimisu kinda thing and it’s amazing.  Good news: it’s a really great cake if you eat it instantly.  Greater news: it only gets better from there.

The recipe comes from Fran Bigelow’s wonderful book, Pure Chocolate.  I learned how to make truffles from this book with much sweat, tears and good results.  Fran is the expert when it comes to chocolate and none of her recipes have steered me wrong.  Her truffles and chocolate tempering require huge amounts of patience.  They simply can’t be rushed.  And when I have about 2 days, I want to try her recipe for dark chocolate brandied apricot torte.  But I didn’t have that much time and saw that this cake took only a couple hours. It delivered rich chocolate and creamy coffee flavors and honestly, what is better than that combination?  This is the perfect party cake or good to have in your fridge (since it lasts all week) to whip out with a cup of coffee when a friend stops by.  Given that friends still stop by in your neck of the woods.  Oh, to live in Mayberry…

cappcake

 

Cappuccino Chocolate Cake
serves 10-12

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% is preferable), finely chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs sugar
3 tablespoons brewed cooled espresso
Cappuccino Whipped Cream (recipe below)
dark cocoa powder for dusting

With a rack positioned in the middle of the oven, preheat to 325F.

Lightly butter a 9×13″ or quarter sheet pan and line with parchment paper.  Lightly butter the parchment paper.

In a glass bowl set over a sauce pan of barely simmering water (I prefer this to a double boiler, as my DB always heats too quickly and scorches the chocolate = sad Alisa) and melt the chocolate.  Remove when nearly melted and continue stirring until smooth.  Set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, combine the egg yolks and half the sugar and whip on medium high speed.  Once combined, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to high.  Continue whipping until the mixture becomes thick, pale yellow in color, and the sugar has dissolved, 5 to 6 minutes.

Clean the whisk and in another clean bowl, begin whipping the egg whites on medium high speed, increasing the speed until frothy.  Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue whipping until the peaks are stiff but not dry.

Pour the cooled coffee into the melted chocolate all at once and quickly stir together to prevent seizing.  If it does thicken and start to separate, don’t worry.  Constant stirring will make it smooth and creamy.

Lighten the chocolate mixture by folding in one-third of the yolks.  Then add the lightened chocolate mixture to the remaining yolks and gently fold.  The mixture will become light and airy with large air bubbles where some traces of yolk remain.  That’s okay and kind of pretty, anyway.

Lighten the yolk mixture by quickly folding in one-quarter of the whites, then gently fold in the remaining whites in 3 parts, trying not to over mix and lose the volume.

Pour the glossy dark chocolate batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.  The pan will be more than three-quarters full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is slightly domed in the center and dry to the touch.  A tester inserted will come out dry and clean with a few crumbs.  Let cool in the pan at room temp.  The layer will pull away from the sides of the pan as it cools.

Have ready the Cappuccino Whipped Cream filling in the fridge.  Remove the cooled cake by running a thin bladed knife around the edges of the pan.  Place the bottom of the baking sheet lined with parchment over the cake and invert.  Peel the parchment paper off.

Using a ruler and the tip of a paring knife, mark the cake into 3 equal sections across the width.  Cut the cake with a serrated blade to make 3 layers about 4 inches wide each.

Place one chilled cake layer on a serving plate.  With a metal spatula, spread one third of the filling over the layer, generously overlapping the edges.  Repeat with second layer and a layer of filling. (The layers should be equal in height to each other.)  Top with the last chilled cake layer.  Be careful not to overwork the cream and frost the top and sides.  Refrigerate at least 4 to 6 hours to set the cake an meld the flavors.  Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.  Can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days (or a week, if you’re us)

Variation: to make this child-friendly(er): just omit the espresso from the whipped cream.

Cappuccino Whipped Cream
makes 3 1/2 cups

1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
3 tbs brewed espresso
2 cups heavy cream, chilled

In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, whisk together the sugar and coffee until frothy.  The sugar will begin to dissolve.  Add the cream and whisk until thoroughly combined and soft peaks form.  Take care not to over whip the cream as it may begin to lose its creamy texture.  Store in the fridge till ready to use.

cappcake2