Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mango Tart: Smashing At The End

Mangoes are my favorite fruit.  I love how they taste, their texture, that they can be eaten by themselves or used in both savory and sweet dishes - everything about them, which is why I make this mango mousse cake so often.  This time I decided to try something new and make a mango dessert that wasn't the mousse cake.  I had already decided to retry the green tea mille crepes cake from the Zen Can Cook website.  When I was on the website, I saw that he's got a recipe for a mango tart.  It was fate!

But of course I can't leave well enough alone, so I changed some things before I even tried the recipe for the first time.  You'd think that I would have learned after the mille crepes cake debacle, but no.  This time I decided that instead of using store-bought puff pastry, I'd make a tart shell and put the filling into that instead.  I used the tart shell from the dark chocolate and cherry tart and one and half bags of frozen mango chunks from Trader Joe's instead of four to five ripe mangoes.

Zen's original recipe produces a flat tart with a thin layer of mango puree topped with lots of fresh mango slices that are baked until they are cooked through.  This isn't a good time of year to get fresh mangoes on the East Coast, so I made a thick tart with a lot of mango puree topped with a small amount of fresh mango that was baked until the mango puree became more solid.  Sometimes it just isn't possible to get the right quantities of the ingredients you need to make a recipe.  There's no shame in improvising.  I figured if the whole thing didn't work, I'd just eat the mango filling with a spoon.

In the end, things worked out well enough that I have a couple of ideas for the next time I try the "thick variation" of this recipe.  Nobody at the potluck got to see the result because I was cut off when I driving on the freeway on my way to the potluck.  Fortunately I had put the mango tart in my cake carrier so when I braked suddenly, the mango tart smashed into the side of the carrier instead of into the back of the drivers seat.  I told the potluck that it was an Impressionist version of a mango tart.  We ate it with a spoon and it tasted wonderful, very mango-y.

If you don't like mango, it's not worth your time to make this since the filling is basically pure mango with a few extra ingredients.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Green Tea Mille Crepes: Second Time's The Charm

The first time I tried to make Zen Can Cook's green tea crepe cake, I got the crepe version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  This time I decided to follow the recipe exactly instead of using a different pastry cream recipe.  It also reminded me why I didn't use Zen's recipe last time: there's six egg yolks in it.  I will be eating a bunch of egg white omeletes this week.

The pastry cream needs to be firm and solid enough to hold up the stack of crepes.  Zen's recipe has both egg yolks and cornstarch for thickening so it's got the consistency of very solid jam.  I stacked up all of the crepes that made it (twenty), and the tower didn't even lean.

Twenty crepes is too many for this cake.  It was too tall to eat easily and we ended up splitting the slices into the top and bottom half.

The pastry cream has a lovely orange flavor but I didn't think it went that well with the crepes.  The green tea turned the crepes green but I couldn't taste it at all.  The texture was nice so the next time I make these crepes, I'll probably double or triple the amount of matcha powder in the batter.  Zen also has a version that is chocolate crepes with the same orange pastry cream.  I think that this combination makes more sense than green tea with orange.

This cake would work nicely as a single serving, personal dessert.  I may try making half sized crepes for small cakes instead of one large one.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Tea Sandwiches and Angel Food Cupcakes

When I moved to DC, I thought that it was an East Coast city that got snow regularly and that it had the infrastructure to handle snow.  How wrong I was.  This city can't handle more than an inch of snow.  Normally I just make disparaging comments comparing DC to Chicago, but at the end of January I ended up cooking for a baby shower twice due to DC's lack of snow skills.

My friend Y was pregnant and her due date was the second week of February.  I met Y at work and became friends with her and C, who are both great.  So C and I arranged to have a baby shower for Y.  We sent out invites, reserved a room, assigned various people to bring food and/or drinks - the whole shebang.

Three days before the baby shower, we found out that there was a major storm heading towards the East Coast.  The weather people were predicting 6 to 12 inches of snow in one night.  But then the predictions began to be downgraded and nobody was sure how much snow we would get.  C and I decided that we would do the baby shower and if work was closed due to massive snowfall, then we would just have some extra food at home to eat instead.

In the end, we got no snow at all but work was still closed down.  Why?  Because they got a half inch of snow.  Seriously.  So I was stuck with 36 angel food cupcakes and a whole bunch of tea sandwiches, all of which needed to be eaten in the next day or two.  I ended up having a spontaneous get-together at my place with a bunch of friends to eat all of the baby shower food, and then I made it all again the next week.

It all worked out in the end. Y had her baby three weeks early, a couple of days after the rescheduled shower.  But I learned a hard lesson about DC: the idea of snow makes everything shut down.

On the other hand, I can assure you that it is really easy to make angel food cupcakes and tea sandwiches.  Trust me, I made them twice in a week.