Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mango tartlettes

Mangoes are a very important fruit to me. Every June of my childhood, my father would buy a crate of the prized Alphonso mangoes sitting in a bed of hay. They were not like regular mangoes -- these were in season for just two weeks and were very expensive and hard to find. But most of all, they are the most delicious mangoes I've ever eaten -- a bright but deep orange pulp with buttery sweet mango flavor unlike the others. So we would eat them very thoroughly, making sure to take up the pulp on the skin and the seed. The best use of them was always on those hot Bombay mornings, when my mother would make me a mango milkshake while I would crush ice wrapped in a tea towel. It remains the best milkshake I've ever had: one Alphonso mango, half cup milk, crushed ice.

I thoroughly missed Alphonsos when I moved out of India and never ate them again. But then last June, a few days before our wedding day, my father arrived in Stockholm with a crate of Alphonso mangoes! They were beautiful, almost more beautiful than my childhood, especially because I got to share them with my husband and family.

These tartlettes should be made with Alphonso mangoes but I made them with regular frozen mangoes. Canned Alphonso mangoes can be good, but the ones I've found here were overpowered by the sugar syrup that they were packed in. This is my mom's recipe and an irresistable one -- it disappears almost instantly because the cream cheese adds creaminess and body to the sweet buttery mangoes and the graham cracker crust provides a perfect bite. It's a perfect finish to a meal, especially to an Indian feast like we had today.

A word about agar agar -- seaweed gelatin: I use a bar of agar agar. The best way to use it is to soak it in water for 20 minutes, then boil until it dissolves. It's a lot easier with agar agar powder because it dissolves instantly.

Mango Tartlettes
Makes 6 tartlettes or a 9-inch tart

150g graham cracker or digestive cookie crumbs
70g / 5 1/2 tbs butter, melted
1 tbs sugar
A pinch of cinnamon

2 1/2 cups Alphonso mango puree
2-3 tbs sugar
200g cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbs (3g) agar agar flakes
1/2 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 350F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar until combined. Divide between 6 mini tarts or a large one. Press the crumbs into the form. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, until a shade darker. Allow to cool.

2. In a sauce pan, add agar agar and water. Simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the flakes are completely dissolved.

3. Blend the mango puree, sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add the agar agar syrup and blend to combine. Strain (for any remaining lumps) and pour into the prepared crust. Chill for 4 - 6 hours, or until set.

Enjoy with a garnish of fresh mangoes.

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