Sunday, 25 May 2008

SHF # 43: coconut lime cake with mango and mascarpone lime mousse

Like Helen, of the beautiful blog tartelette, I'm a big fan of anything citrus. So when she chose citrus as the theme of this month's Sugar High Friday, I couldn't have been happier. And I immediately got Harry Nilsson's coconut, one of my all-time favourite songs, stuck in my head. I first heard it when watching Practical Magic and I have actually watched the film again just for the song. It's sweet and silly and makes me laugh. I can thoroughly recommend this song, especially on a blegh and grey day. So, SHF. I wanted to make something pretty and tropical, and after going through some cookbooks, browsing a few blogs, and taking cue from the coconut song, I decided on a combo of coconut and lime with mango, in the shape of little cakes with fruit and mousse layer. Something I'd never tried before, but it didn't look all that difficult - baking a cake? I could do that half asleep. Chopping up some fruit? Easy peasy. And whipping up a mousse? five minutes' work.

For the cake base, I chose Delia's coconut lime cake. A bit risky, since I hadn't made this cake before, but I find that Delia usually delivers. And deliver she did. The cake didn't rise very high, but it turned out quite well - I knew I could trust our Delia. The mango, unfortunately, didn't deliver. Instead of the sweet juicy and orangey-yellow fruit I was imagining, I got a hard pale and rather sour mango. That will teach me for buying mangoes out of season I guess. I should have waited for those incredibly sweet small yellow Pakistani mangoes I will find at my local market in a month or so. But all was not lost, I added a few spoons of sugar and some vanilla bean paste, which made it ok. Not great, but more than edible.

For the mousse, I browsed Bea's and Helen's archives, but all the recipes I found had gelatine in them, and I have a very strong dislike for the stuff. A google search only returned gelatine-based mousses as well, so I took a risk, and luckily it worked. I used Helen's mascarpone lime mousse recipe, but left out the gelatine and the lime zest (another thing I don't like), without changing anything else. I figured, with the whipped egg whites and whipped cream, the mousse would set in the fridge. After all, my chocolate mousse and tiramisu set in the fridge, so no reason why this mousse wouldn't set either. And I was right, phew. It might not work in hot or humid climes though. I guess that's the one good thing about living in grey and temperate London.

Getting the whole thing assembled took a bit of fiddling, but wasn't too hard. Of course I started with grand plans: I had wanted to add a frozen cone with coconut yoghurt and mango purée, like this one, put a glaze on the cakes, and add a cilantro syrup. But in between all the weekend DIY, finally getting to meet our friends' new baby, and getting engaged (yes, after almost 12 years together S proposed), I didn't get around to executing all those grand plans. They will have to wait for another time. That evening, S and I cracked open a bottle of champagne and had a simple but lovely pasta dinner, followed by these cakes were our dessert. Surprisingly, S really liked it. Separately, the three components weren't great: the cake was a bit fibrey with all the desiccated coconut, the mango not ripe and the lime mousse not very sweet, but together they were just right. A sweet end to a wonderful day...

Sunday, 18 May 2008

milk jam

About a month ago, I discovered Aran’s beautiful blog, cannelle et vanille, when she left me a comment. I instantly fell in love with her beautiful creations and photographs and luckily, she hasn’t been blogging for very long, so it didn’t take ages to read through her archives – lucky me, otherwise I would have been reading through the night. One thing immediately caught my attention and that was her milk jam. I’d never heard of it before, but it sounded intriguing and lovely.

Especially because vain little me wanted to bleach my teeth and my dentist had instructed me to only eat ‘white food’ for the two weeks it would take. No coffee, red wine, tomatoes, red peppers, strawberries … Of course after about a week I got incredibly fed up with eating cauliflower, rice and apples – we have a saying in Flemish that goes ‘they came out of my ears’, which I think pictures my sentiment quite well – and I was desperate for some variation. The milk jam provided just that; luscious, creamy, buttery and milky. Delicious! If you haven’t made it yet, stop reading and go make it right now. The recipe is here.

I have mentioned before I’m not a fan of gelatine, so I left out the gelatine and reduced it a bit more to compensate, to about 250g. It set to a very spreadable paste in the fridge. For my second batch (did I mention how delicious this is?) I had to use half and half milk (S drank all the full-fat milk) and I added some nutmeg. Out of curiosity I reduced it to 300g, which also worked fine. And for my next batch, I’m thinking coconut milk. Or maybe sweet massala spices…

Sunday, 4 May 2008


It's a good thing I made that breaded cheese salad when I did, because yesterday evening, when I was looking for the breadcrumbs to top the cauliflower gratin I was preparing for dinner, they were nowhere to be found. Of course there was only one place they could have gone, I didn't even have to ask (but I did anyway, silly me).