Here is a twist on Thailand’s very favorite sweet treat!
Borrowing from the traditional Thai pairing of sliced fresh mango eaten with sticky rice drizzled with coconut cream, I have instead made a tart with a coconut jasmine rice pastry cream scented with kaffir lime leaves that is topped with freshly picked sliced mango. This tart makes a tantalizingly colorful presentation that is sure to make a stellar tropical finale for a summer meal and well worth the little extra effort. For more information about Thailand’s mango and sticky rice (click here)
Of course choosing your mangoes is paramount. Ideally they should be freshly picked, plump, blemish free, and firm with an ever so slight give when very gently pressed. Their aroma should be flowery without a hint acidity. There are of course many varieties to choose from ranging from deep green, yellow, pastel yellow, orange, and various shades of red. Best to buy them not more than a day before you intend to use them and refrigerate them to slow down the ripening process. Peel, slice, and arrange the mango over the pastry cream just before serving for maximum flavor and freshness.
The rest of the preparations can be made in advance and refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
Fresh Mango Tart with Coconut Jasmine Rice Pastry Cream
Sweet Pastry (pate sablee) Tart Shell 10 or 11 inches, fully baked
As making the tart shell requires several steps including chilling the dough at several stages, as well as baking it, it is best to get this out of the way in advance. A fully baked tart shell cooled to room temperature and sealed n a large freezer bag will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
Everyone who bakes has there own favorite tart pastry dough recipe so the choice is yours. Like many cooks I am always trying different recipes in a search of that perfect pastry dough that is easy to handle, sturdy when baked, and has at sweet crumbly sand like texture that classic tart shells should embody.
Likewise you can cook the rice and make the pastry cream in advance as well. Both will be combined and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the tart.
For the Coconut Jasmine Rice
- ½ cup Thai jasmine rice
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 kaffr lime leaves
Preheat the oven to 325f/170c
After briefly boiling the rice finishing off the rice in the oven avoids the inevitable scorching of the rice in the bottom of the pan when cooked on the stove top.
Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed oven proof sauce pan set over medium heat on the stove top. Stir occasionally as the liquid heats up to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes while stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cover the pan with a lid and place it in the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once about half way through the baking time. Remove from the oven, remove the kaffir lime leaves and discard, and set the rice aside to cool.
For the Coconut Pastry Cream
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large organic eggs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Have ready a mixing bowl with a fine mesh strainer set over the bowl.
Place the coconut milk in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and drop in the kaffir lime leaves. Stir now and again while the coconut milk is heating.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Then add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
Once the coconut milk is just under a boil ladle about a third of the hot coconut milk slowly into the egg cornstarch mixture while whisking continuously until incorporated.
Then pour the egg mixture back into the hot coconut milk and whisk continuously. The mixture will thicken after about 2 minutes with a custard like consistency. Continue to heat while continuously whisking until the custard is just about to break into a simmer with just a few little bubbles appearing on the surface. You do not want the custard to boil as the eggs in the mixture will begin to curdle! Promptly remove the pan from the stove and pour the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl. This will stop the cooking and remove any curdling that may have occurred. Discard the kaffir lime leaaves.
Let cool a few minutes and then stir in the butter, a tablespoon full at a time, while whisking until the pastry cream is very smooth.
Place the bowl of pastry cream on a cooling rack and press cling film directly onto the surface to avoid a skin forming on the surface as it cools.. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate if not using immediately.
When both the coconut rice and the pastry cream have cooled to room temperature add the rice to the pasty cream and fold it in until evenly distributed. Then cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour or more before assembling the tart.
- 2-4 mangoes depending on size
Peel the mangoes with a vegetable peeler and slice the mango into thin pieces lengthwise with the knife slicing parallel to the center stone/seed. Cover and refrigerate.
Assembling the Tart
Remove the fully baked tart shell from the refrigerator. Spoon the coconut rice pastry cream into the tart shell to about three quarters full and smooth the surface evenly. Cover the tart with cling film and refrigerate until well chilled.
Arranging the freshly sliced mango over of the pastry cream should be done as close to serving time as possible for maximum freshness!
Arrange the sliced mango over the surface of the pastry cream to your liking, trimming the mango slices as needed. Serve promptly, or cover the tart and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.
While having coffee with my Welsh friend Paul the other day Welsh Cakes (pice ar y maen) wandered into our conversation. I confess I had never heard of Welsh cakes. Being the ever curious cook that I am, we ended up having a long chat about how his mother made her Welsh cakes for the family when they were kids back in Cardiff.
I have to say making these girdled cakes was so intriguing I was up at 6 am the following morning researching recipes and off into the kitchen making Welsh cakes!
The results were a cook’s epiphany. Easily mixed up and onto the griddle in no time. Welsh cakes are scones cooked on a griddle, if you will, but with a lighter billowy center while beautifully browned and slightly crisped on top and bottom. The upside is, unlike scones which are really best eaten right out of the oven, Welsh cakes have staying power. They were often packed into lunch boxes in the old days in Wales, tasting just as griddle fresh throughout the day as well as the following day with a short reheat.
These rustic Welsh gems must be tried! I just love them!
Welsh Cakes: makes 12
This is a basic recipe that makes traditional Welsh cakes that are perfect just as they are. However, feel free to try other dried fruits such as raisins or dried berries. You can also add a pinch or two of spices such as cinnamon or allspice as well as lemon or orange zest.
- 8 oz/225g all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 ½ oz/100g unsalted butter, cold
- 1.8oz/50g fine granulated (caster) sugar + extra for sprinkling
- 1.8oz/50g currants
- 1 organic egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
- a cast iron griddle or cast iron skillet, or heavy bottomed non-stick skillet as an alternative.
- a 2 ½ inch/6 ½cm round biscuit or cookie cutter
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Cut the well chilled butter into small cubes and add them to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or, my preference, use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a course meal, much as you would pastry flour for a pie crust.
Add the sugar and the currants to the flour mixture and stir in with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until well combined.
Beat together the egg and milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and, using the wooden spoon or spatula, work the liquid into the flour mixture until evenly distributed and the dough is starting to come together.
At this point, using your hands, gather the dough into a ball without overworking the dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and flatten the dough a bit. Dust the top of the dough with some flour and flour the rolling pin.
Begin rolling out the dough, giving the dough a quarter turn as you roll it out. If the dough is sticking to the work surface, lift it up and add a little more flour underneath it. Then roll the dough out to about a ¼ inch/ 2/3 cm thickness.
Cut out your cakes with the cutter and set them aside. Gather together the scraps of dough, reform it into ball, flatten it, and roll it out as before. Cut out the remaining cakes and set aside.
Note: I would recommend cooking one cake first as a test run, adjusting the heat of the griddle accordingly to avoid under or over cooking the remaining cakes.
Heat the griddle or skillet over medium low heat. When hot wipe the surface with a little butter and transfer some cakes to the griddle, arranging them so they are not touching one another. Cook for about 2 to 2 ½ minutes and the cakes have risen slightly. Lift up a cake to see if it is a nice golden brown. If so turn the cakes over and cook for another 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Feel the sides of the cakes which should feel slightly soft. If they need a little more cooking time just flip cakes over and cook another minute, but do not over cook!
Transfer the finished cakes to a cooling rack and dust with sugar if you like.
Serve warm just as they are or with preserves and clotted cream (or Greek yogurt)
Store leftovers in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. To reheat, just pop them in the toaster!
Clafoutis is a traditional dessert that originates from the Limousin region of central France. The name comes from the regional dialect word clafir which means to fill. Traditionally clafoutis is made with fresh black or red cherries, although other fruits can be used as well, baked into a flan like filling. Clafoutis is relatively easy to make and, as the name implies, is a lovely “filling” dessert using locally grown seasonal fruits.
For the recipe that follows I wanted to use fruit grown locally here in Thailand. Although cherries are available, they are imported and worth their weight in gold. What I found instead were sweet fresh figs and to my astonishment locally grown blueberries! It is truly amazing what farmers here in Thailand are able grow using a little ingenuity and adapting conditions for growing non native produce under the scorching sun of the tropics.
I have always liked the pairing of fruits with a mild goat cheese, aka chevre, particularly with figs and have incorporated it into the filling for this recipe. If you are not a fan of goat cheese see the notes in the recipe for substitutes.
The recipe works well using a variety of firmer fruits and berries including , apples, pears, apricots, cranberries and so on. Juicy tropical fruits are not recommended as they release too much liquid and are much better eaten fresh in any case.
Clafoutis with Fresh Figs, Blueberries, and Chevre
Have ready a 10 inch round ceramic oven proof baking dish
- 10 ½ ounces/300 grams fresh ripe figs
- 5 ½ ounces/150 grams fresh blueberries
For the filling:
- 3 ounces/85 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ½ ounces/ 43 grams fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
- 3 organic eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar for the fruit
- confectioner’s powdered sugar for dusting
Note: For those who are not fond of goat cheese’s peppery tang, simply omit the chevre and cream cheese, and instead substitute 4 ½ ounces/ ½ cup crème fraiche or full fat Greek yogurt.
Preheat the oven to 375f/190c
Remove the stems from the figs and slice in half lengthwise. Rinse the blueberries, drain and set out on a kitchen towel to dry.
Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Likewise break up the goat cheese and place it in the bowl with the cream cheese.
In another bowl combine the eggs, sugar, and flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the egg, sugar, flour mixture over the cheeses and whisk until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a blender. If omitting the cheeses substitute 4 ½ ounces/ ½ cup crème fraiche or full fat Greek yogurt and whisk it directly into the eggs, sugar, and flour.
Place the milk in a sauce pan and warm over very low heat until tepid. The milk need not be heated if you are not using the cheeses.
With the blender running on low speed slowly pour the tepid milk into the filling mixture until incorporated. Then turn the speed to medium and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If not using the cheeses simply whisk the milk directly into the filling mixture by hand or with a mixer.
Add the vanilla and lemon juice and pulse (or whisk) several times until blended in.
Lightly butter the interior of the baking dish.
Place the buttered baking dish in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and pour a very thin layer of filling mixture into the dish. The filling layer will firm up and form a thin skin in the bottom of the baking dish.
Arrange the fig halves in the baking dish skin side up and scatter the blueberries evenly around the figs. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the fruit. Pour filling into the baking dish, leaving the tops of the figs exposed. Gently jiggle the dish to evenly distribute the filling mixture. You may not use all of the filling mixture which can be discarded.
Place the clafoutis in the oven and bake until the center is just set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick into the filling. If the toothpick comes out mostly clean the clafoutis is done. Do not over bake! The clafoutis will firm up as it cools.
Remove the clafoutis from the oven and set on a rack to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the broiler and raise the oven rack to the upper level.
Dust the top of the clafoutis with confectioner’s sugar.
Place in the oven under the broiler and broil until the top of is very lightly browned, turning several times in the process.
Remove from the oven promptly and set on a rack to cool. Refrigerate if you plan to serve the clafoutis later.
The clafoutis is best served at room temperature. Lightly dust the surface of the clafoutis with confectioner’s powdered sugar just before serving.
A flash back to the 50’s, this Sunshine pie was the best ever dessert coming out of our home kitchen.
Those were the days when low fat wasn’t in our vocabulary of course. That aside, savoring an indulgence now and again is after all the spice of life is it not!
I’ve transcribed my mother’s hand written recipe which was given to her by her friend Marie Persons who was in the horse business who also happened to be a wonderful chef as well as a home cook. She prepared copious meals that even impressed a young lad like me. The recipe has since been passed down over time and is still a favorite family recipe with many fond memories of when it was served for various occasions to everyone’s great delight.
“Sunshine” Lemon Cheese Pie makes one 12 inch pie
For the crust:
- 20 Graham crackers or sugar biscuits (I used Digestive biscuits)
- 6 tablespoons/3 oz butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Crush the crackers in a bowl. Add the melted butter and sugar and stir until completely combined.
Press the cracker crust mixture into the pie plate and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the pie filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 organic egg
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
preheat the oven to 350f/180c
Cut the softened cream cheese into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl combine the egg, sugar and flour and whisk until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the cream cheese and whisk together until completely smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and whisk until incorporated.
Place the milk and butter in a small sauce pan and warm over low heat until the butter is just melted. Whisk the milk and butter mixture and add it to the cream cheese mixture. Whisk until the filling is completely smooth and creamy.
Remove the chilled pie crust from the refrigerator and pour the pie filling into the crust. Transfer the pie to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. The filling will appear loose, but it will firm up as the filling cools.
Preheat the oven to 400f/200c
For the topping:
- 2 cups sour cream
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine the sour cream sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Pour the topping mixture over the surface of the pie and gently giggle the pie plate to even out the surface.
Transfer the pie to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
- Candied lemon peel (optional)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1½ cups water
Using a vegetable peeler remove the zest from a fresh lemon from stem to stern. Be sure to avoid peeling too deeply as you do not want any white pith included with the zest.
Using a very sharp knife slice the zest into very thin strips. Then divide the strips in half.
Place the zest in a small sauce pan and add the sugar and water. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a low boil and cook, swirling the pan from time to time, until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup and the zest is softened and translucent.
Transfer the zest to a plate lined with parchment, separating the zest as much as possible. Set aside to cool completely.
When ready to serve remove the pie from the refrigerator and decorate the surface of the pie with the candied lemon zest.