Enjoy the greatness of mango

“The mango has made an optimist of me,” Diana Shaw, author of Almost Vegetarian, said. “After all, how bad can the world be when something this good occurs naturally?”

With their abundance of vitamins A, C and D, plus iron, mangoes are a welcome addition to the table year round, but are at their prime from May to September. The best mangoes give slightly when pressed and smell sweet. Whether in breads, salads, salsas, sauces, chutneys or desserts, mangoes will bring goodness to your meals. Since you probably already know you can add a juicy mango “as is” to many a salad, salsa or chutney, let’s focus on desserts that feature this delicious fruit. And remember to add the annual Mango Festival to your calendar for Saturday, July 21, at Hale Halawai in Kailua-Kona.

ADVERTISING


Mango Streusel Tea Cake

This recipe from “Sara Moulton Cooks at Home” from the Food Network Channel, would actually be great for breakfast, brunch or dessert; makes 12 servings.

For the Batter:

12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teasoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 large ripe mangoes (about a pound each), peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan; set aside. In a bowl, beat butter and sugar together with electric mixer on high, until pale yellow and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl often. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt together; add mixture to egg mixture all at once. Mix at low speed for 10 seconds; scrape down sides of bowl. Slowly add buttermilk and vanilla; continue mixing at low speed until batter is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Arrange mango slices decoratively around top of batter in a circular pattern and a few in the center.

For the Streusel:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix with fingertips until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle over the batter and mangoes. Bake in center of oven for 1 hour or until the center is firm. Check center with a toothpick; it should come out clean or continue baking for 10 minutes longer. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

Mango and Rice Pudding with Toasted Coconut and Pistachios

Warm and creamy comfort food, island style (sometimes I use macadamia nuts instead of pistachios, but the color/presentation looks better with pistachios) from “Fresh & Fast” by Marie Simmons; makes 6 to 8 servings.

3 cups water

1 cup medium-grain rice*

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

1/4 cup finely chopped skinned pistachios

2 cups ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced (about 2 large)

In a large, wide saucepan, combine water, rice and salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Stir once, reduce heat to low, cover and cook over low heat until rice is very soft and tender but still moist, about 25 minutes. Uncover and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, cream, sugar, and extracts in a bowl; stir to blend. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut at one end of a baking sheet, and nuts at the other end. Bake just until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes; cool. Add warm rice to yogurt mixture and stir to blend. Fold in the mangoes. To serve, spoon into dessert dishes and top with toasted coconut and nuts. Serve warm, as pudding will stiffen on standing. If this happens, you can thin with a little more cream or yogurt if desired.

*Use a soft or sticky variety of rice, like California medium-grain, also sold as Japanese, or a Spanish or Italian rice.

Mango-Lime Granita

Want make-ahead easy? This recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine is refreshing and beautiful, with only 4 ingredients; makes 4 servings.

3 cups chopped ripe mango (about 3 mangoes)

1 cup water

Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4c up)

2 tablespoons sugar

Place chopped mango in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl; add water, lime juice and sugar. Stir to dissolve, then pour mixture into a 9- by 5-inch, deep-sided metal pan; place in freezer until nearly set, about 3 hours. Whisk mixture every hour. Remove from freezer and scrape surface with the tines of a fork until it is the texture of shaved ice. Return to freezer until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Mango Crème Brulée

This special-occasion dessert takes a little effort and time, but is sure to impress. Recipe from “From the Earth to the Table” by John Ash; makes 8 servings. Garnish with mint sprigs and fresh berries, if desired.

4 cups heavy cream

4-inch vanilla bean

Pinch of salt

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup diced fresh mango

4 tablespoons light-brown sugar

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

ADVERTISING


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla bean and salt until scalding. Remove vanilla bean from hot cream; slit it open and scrape the tiny seeds back into the cream. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and the 3/4 cup sugar until well mixed and light in color. Slowly add hot cream, stirring constantly to melt sugar and not let eggs scramble. Strain; skim off any bubbles. Gently stir in mango.

Divide mixture among 8 ramekins. Place ramekins in a roasting pan, then fill pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until the center is just beginning to set and no longer liquid; remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight. Near serving time, combine the 4 tablespoons of each sugar in a small bowl. Preheat a broiler; sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the mixed sugars evenly over the surface of each custard. Broil, as quickly as possible, until sugar is caramelized. Serve within an hour to maintain the crispness of the sugar topping.