Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dreams of Grandeur - Coconut Mango Tart

I wrote this post in the summer, sometime after making the egg tart.  I've been taking more photos lately, simply of random things at school.  Close-ups are by far the easiest way for me to capture the beauty I find, and with all the rain we've been having, the sky gives a pleasantly soft, grey glow.  This one is probably the one I like the best, taken near the Bioengineering building on campus.  

Do forgive me, if you are so inclined.  It was windy that day.

Natural light is a fickle friend.  My mum insists on having all the bulbs in the kitchen on, leaving my photos to wait until after everyone is out, or to steep in yellow indoor glow.  I also generally bake in the evening to prepare a fresh dessert and avoid the chaos of preparing dinner.  This tart required an overnight stay in the fridge for the custard to firm up (not enough, as I later found) and created an opportunity to use afternoon light. 

I think the beginnings of this idea came from Crumb.  I read this post, thought it sounded delicious and promptly forgot all about it until a few days later when I was cooking on the stove.  I wanted some fruit, reached for a mango, and stopped.  After slicing into the mango and eating just the part around the seed, I sprinted to the back room and unearthed a single can of creamy coconut milk.  I immediately wanted to make a cool coconut custard, topped with wedges of bright mango and perfumed with vanilla bean.  

Tart Crust slightly adapted from Crumb (Honeyed Nut Tart)

1¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
5 tablespoons soymilk (I wanted to use mango nectar, but we ran out)

1 large mixing bowl
1 sturdy butter knife
1 10" or 11" round tart pan with removable bottom (possibly substitute another pan)
1 rolling pin (optional, only if you want to have sharp, clean edges on your pastry)


1. Combine all the ingredients except soymilk in the mixing bowl.  Use your hands to quickly rub the butter into the flour mixture until it forms large flakes.  Add the soymilk by tablespoon, mixing with the butter knife until the dough forms.  Pat it into the tart pan, covering the bottom and sides.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prick the crust several times with a fork or toothpick to help prevent bubbles.  If desired, roll the rolling pin across the top of the tart pan for a crisp, professional edge.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until a pale golden.  The crust will bubble up, then sink back down when it finishes baking.

Coconut Custard by trial and error
 Makes about 2 cups, enough to fill a tart crust in a 10" round pan

1 can coconut milk (about 13 fluid ounces)
¼ cup soymilk (I simply used a little to rinse out the container into the measuring cup)
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg yolk

1 balloon whisk
2-cup liquid measure
¼ cup dry measure
1 tablespoon measure
1 small pot for cooking custard


1. Heat the coconut and soymilk over medium heat until steaming, stirring occasionally.  Whisk the egg yolk, sugar and cornstarch together in the measuring cup and set aside.  

2. When the milk is hot, turn the fire off.  Pour a little of the hot milk into the yolk mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Turn the fire back on, pour all of the yolk and milk back into the pot and continue to cook.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and leaves lines from the whisk, about 15 minutes.

3. Turn the fire off.  Split the vanilla bean lengthwise scrape the seeds into the custard.  Add the vanilla bean and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.

Some Assembly Required:

2 or 3 mangoes, depending on size
2 cups of custard (should be the entire batch, minus tastings)
1 10" round tart crust still in tart pan

Pour the custard into the crust.  Since it's still pretty liquidy, it should smooth out into an even layer.  Do not worry about this layer, since it'll be covered by mango slices anyway.
Cut the mangoes into slices.  I do this by locating the approximate position of the edge of the seed and cutting there, so I have a mango cut into thirds.  Hold one of the mango sides in your palm and carefully slice, cutting all the way through the skin on one of the cuts so you have about a ninth of a mango.  Slice between the mango and its skin, so you are left holding a small handful of very juicy and slippery mango slices.  Repeat until all the mangoes are sliced.  (This sounds complicated.  I'll take photos next time.)

Arrange the slices on top of the custard.  Work carefully since the slices are slippery.  A good pattern is to start from the edge and spiral the slices in like flower petals.  Use the smaller slices near the edge and progress until your largest slices form a spiral flower of sorts in the center of your tart.  

I just liked this picture :)
Here's what it's supposed to look like!

Refrigerate overnight, and enjoy!  If you'd like a firm custard, I recommend baking the crust, then coconut custard and crust, then layering the mango on top.  I'm not sure how long to bake the custard, but check after 10 minutes and then every few minutes after.

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