I grew up eating straight-up UhMERkin food. Solid. Filling. Nourishing. But not exotic. And honestly, as a kid, exotic would have scared me. But still. I don’t think I even had “Chinese” food–and by “Chinese,” I mean sweet and sour chicken–until I was in college. I had tacos maybe 14 times over the course of my Formative years, and I had never even gone to Taco Bell until I was moving into my second rental. How does anyone make it out of college without ever going to Taco Bell? I don’t really know, but I did.
I tell you these things so you will understand Exactly Where I Am Coming From when I say that Indian Food is my Favorite. I don’t even know how it happened. I probably have told you before, but my first experience with Indian food was at a restaurant in Charlotte back in 1989-ish. I was probably 23-24 (I’m bad at math), and I was Trepidatious when some friends suggested Indian for a night out. But I was game, and didn’t want to wuss out by cramming a hastily assembled PB&J into my purse.
When we got there, I looked at the menu and decided that Things Would Be Okay. Aside from all the words I couldn’t pronounce, I found references to a Number of foods that I really, really liked. Lamb? Check. Chicken? Check. Bread? Check. Potatoes? Check. Garlic? Check. Rice? Check. Peas? Check. So, I held my breath and ordered. And then the lovely man (as I think of him now) brought me my food, and I fell in love. Even though the spices could not have been more alien, and even though I didn’t even like yogurt or cucumbers, and even though they had the nerve to serve me some non-starchy Vegetables, all the food felt instantly familiar and comforting.
But the beverage. The lassi. The mango lassi. This–this…elixir…transported me. I had never had a mango. I didn’t like yogurt. But I could not get enough of that silky/creamy/just-sweet-enough lassi. I mean to tell you that I plowed through the ludicrously overpriced (they always are, but I don’t even care) beverage/dessert/cure-all in about 3.7 seconds. I couldn’t help myself. I still can’t. I order one. I drink it. It’s gone. The stuff is like Nestle Quik–I can’t drink it slow cuz it’s Quik! (Doh-doh-dee-oh)
Well, the other evening, I had a Thought. I thought that it would be Keen to make a mango lassi into a cake. I’ve made it into a panna cotta before (highly recommended) for my plated dessert final in culinary school, but I wanted some Cake. So I thunk and thunk about how to do it. First I considered just making a mango pound cake, but I wanted something a bit more special. Then I thought: chiffon cake! But decided against it. I wanted the dessert to be very light in texture. And kinda fancy. Genoise? Perfect. Light and airy and able to hold some tasty syrup.
And then I had a Specific Thought regarding the yogurt portion of the activity. I thought that, if I strained the yogurt long enough that it might act like butter in a standard American buttercream. (This turned out to NOT be the case, but how’s a girl to know if she doesn’t try)? So I started Playing.
Genoise–no problem. Mango curd–no problem (well, a little bit of a problem. I hadn’t added enough gelatin to let it set up the way I wanted, so I just took a couple of tablespoons of orange juice and bloomed a bit more gelatin, added a scoop of the runny curd and heated it all up together. Then, I whisked the gelatinized batch into the rest, et voila–she was perfect). Strained yogurt–no problem. Cardamom simple syrup–no problem (and miraculously fragrant and wonderful).
Assembly was simple, more or less. I cut the genoise layer in thirds, used 1/3 of my syrup to moisten the first layer, globbed on about 3/4-1 cup of mango curd, topped with another layer, then syrup, then more curd, then the last layer and syrup. Since the curd would set softly like pudding, I decided to use some of it as the crumb coat.
Here’s what happened when I decided to whip powdered sugar into reasonably fluffy yogurt/mango curd/honey: sweet soup.
Poo. Ever undaunted, I Rallied. How to thicken up the soup? Butter! So I ended up making a hybrid American/European–Ameripean? Ew.–buttercream. I used 8 ounces of the soup, warmed it slightly, and then whisked in 8 oz of soft-but-cool butter until I had a beautiful, fluffy buttercream.
But then, I realized that there was no longer enough yogurt in the buttercream to make me feel lassi-ish, so I took the straight-up strained yogurt cheese, whisked in a bit of the mango soup, and used it to add a layer of yogurty goodness just on the top of the cake.
And how was it? Light, creamy, flavorful, airy, not-too-rich, not-too-sweet. Pretty darned perfect, even with the mango soup detour.
I have a bunch of that mango soup left over. I will figure out what to do with it. Honest. The cake, though, I know Exactly what I’m going to do with that.
- 1.25 ounces beurre noisette--If you click the link to the original recipe up there, you can find out how to make it.
- 7 ounces whole egg (about 4 eggs)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3.5 ounces Demerara sugar (you can certainly use regular white granulated, if you want)
- 1.75 ounces cake flour
- 1.75 ounces corn starch
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground cardamom seeds
- 4 ounces water
- 2 ounces Demerara sugar
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 9 oz Odwalla Mango Tango Smoothie*
- 4 oz mango chunks (I thawed out some frozen)
- ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon Demerara sugar
- very heavy pinch of salt, about ¼ teaspoon or so
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 oz butter, cut into pieces
- 1½ teaspoons gelatin
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice (or more Mango Tango if you didn't go ahead and drink it all)
- 8 oz. strained Greek yogurt
- 4 oz. mango curd
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- heavy pinch of salt
- splash of vanilla
- 8 oz powdered sugar
- 1½ cups strained Greek yogurt
- enough mango soup to thin to spreading consistency, about ½ cup
- 8 oz mango soup
- 8 oz softened butter, cut into 16 pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Spray an 8"x3" (or 9"X2") pan with pan spray. Line the bottom with a parchment circle, and spray again. Set aside.
- Stir the ground cardamom into the hot beurre noisette and set aside.
- Put the eggs, sugar and salt in your mixing bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the egg mixture is warm, not hot, to the touch.
- Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment and beat the eggs on high speed for at least 5 minutes, although it will not hurt them to go for longer.
- Sift together the flour and corn starch.
- Once the eggs have whipped for at least 5 minutes, stir one cup of the batter into the warm butter/cardamom mixture. Pour this back into the mixing bowl with the rest of the batter, but pour it down the side of the bowl.
- Sift the flour/corn starch mixture over the top of the eggs.
- Fold the batter, butter-batter and flour mixture together gently but thoroughly.
- Pour/scrape into the prepared pan, smooth the top and immediately place in the oven.
- Bake until done, between 25-35 minutes. You will know it is done when the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan--no need to impale with a skewer.
- Remove cake from pan immediately, peel off the parchment and let cool, right side up on a rack, until room temperature.
- Bring the water, sugar and cardamom seeds to a rolling boil, and let it boil for a few seconds.
- Remove from heat and cover until cool.
- Stir in the vanilla.
- Put the butter pieces and the vanilla in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a small glass, bloom the gelatin in 2 tablespoons of MT or orange juice. Set aside.
- In a blender, combine the Mango Tango, mango chunks, sugar and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Scrape the mango mixture into a medium sauce pan and add the yolks.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture will bubble up and thin out a bit. Eventually it will start to steam and then thicken.
- Continue whisking madly until the foam you have whisked up subsides--about 170F, if you have a thermometer.
- Strain the mango mixture into the bowl with the butter and vanilla.
- Scrape the gelatin mixture into the bowl on top of the hot mango curd.
- Whisk everything together.
- Chill until very softly set.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the strained yogurt, the mango curd, honey, salt and vanilla. Look dubious.
- Whisk in 8 oz of powdered sugar. Be sad. Then rally.
- Heat 8 ounces of mango soup until just barely warmish.
- In your mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip in the butter, a pat at a time, until you have a lovely, fluffy buttercream. Be happy.
- Slice the top and bottom crusts off the genoise (the top crust will be thicker and easier to remove).
- Torte the genoise into three layers. Use a serrated knife for this. I tried with dental floss and it didn't work--the genoise is just too boingy.
- Put a dab of mango curd on the center of your serving platter. and place the bottom thin layer of genoise on the platter.
- Brush with ⅓ of the cardamom syrup.
- Pile on about 1 cup or so of mango curd and spread almost to the edges.
- Add another genoise layer, another ⅓ of the syrup and another cup or so of mango curd. Spread almost to the edges.
- Top with the last layer of genoise and brush with the last ⅓ of the syrup.
- Spread a very thin layer of curd over the top and down the sides of the cake. This is the crumb coat and will keep your icing from getting crumby.
- Refrigerate until set, covered with plastic wrap.
- Peel off the plastic wrap and spread a ¼" layer of Greek Yogurt/mango soup just on the top of the cake. Spread smoothly.
- Ice the top and sides of the cake with the mango buttercream.
- This will taste better the next day. But you can go ahead and have a piece. You've earned it.
Wow, that was a long one! But very doable. Honest. Or just make the curd by itself. It is very, very good. And the cardamom syrup was quite a surprise. I had no idea it would be as lovely as it was. So, make the Whole Deal, or just pick and choose the components you think sound good. Regardless, enjoy, and have a lovely day.