Blog Archive

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mango Tiramisu

Mango Tiramisu

Mango Tiramisu and a Better Life
by Victoria Challancin

At the risk of sounding trite, I confess that I have long thought that life is just a little better once mango season begins.  A bit brighter, a little more healthy, substantially more poetic.  In addition to admitting that I love to eat flowers, I can also say that I like to eat mangoes for similar reasons:  They taste like perfume, they evoke poetry, they give me an excuse to wax philosophical, if a bit silly.

Nowadays, we can get mangoes all year long.  Before our own glorious season begins here in Mexico, they happily sneak their way up from South America even during the winter.  No more waiting anxiously for the Mexican season to start.  No more guessing will it be Manilas or Ataulfos that make their first appearance.  No more biting fingernails dreading the end of the season.  I buy more kilos than I care to say each week...eating them with abandon, putting them in everything, relishing the juice running down my chin...and just generally being a hedonist.

Building the tiramisu:  a layer of soaked savoiardi 

So when I saw a similar recipe to this one online last week, I knew I would have to make this mango tiramisu for the stunning conclusion to an Italian Cooking Class I was teaching to Mexican cooks.  No, you probably won't find it in Italy.  Yes, it was divine.  Cream, mascarpone, orange liqueur, and mangoes? Seriously, what is there in this inspired combination that won't inspire weeping?


I looked at a number of recipes, and cringed a bit when I saw it called "Mangomisu."  Really, why do we do that?  Tiramisù is an Italian word that actually refers to  "pick me up," "cheer me up" or "lift me up."  So what then would a "mangomisu" do, though I can't deny that mangoes in general lift and cheer me to no end.  The dessert in Italy, loved throughout the world, consists of layers of sponge cake or savoiardi (ladies" fingers) soaked in coffee and brandy or liqueur with powdered chocolate and mascarpone cheese.

And for those of you who love words as I do, tiramisù in Italian can be used in non-food related ways to express sincerity in any given situation, especially when trying to convey a true level of genuineness.  And wait, there is more:  the word can also be used to indicate a feeling of being misunderstood, particularly when feeling that genuineness and honesty is being impugned.  How great is that?

A layer of mango filling

A Few Facts about Mangoes:
(Some of this is from, but other bits are from around the web)
  • Mangoes originated in India over 5000 years ago
  • Mangoes seeds started their journey around the world via humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa, and South America beginning around 300 to 400 A.D.
  • Mangoes are related to cashews and pistachios--is it any wonder they are so tasty?
  • A mango tree can grow as tall as 100 feet
  • The bark, leaves, skin and pit of the mango have been used in folk remedies for centuries
  • Mangoes are often considered to be a sacred fruit in India because it is believed that Buddha meditated under a mango tree
  • There are over 1000 (yes, one thousand) cultivars of mangoes
  • Mangoes can cause contact dermatitis to the lips, gums, or tongue of susceptible people (I remember fondly how my father would peel mangoes for my mother--we had our own tree--just for that reason; she could eat them, but would break out if she touched the outside part)
  • Mangoes are the national fruit of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines and the national tree of Bangladesh
  • The paisley pattern, which developed in India, is based on the shape of a mango
  • In Hinduism, the perfectly ripe mango is often held by Lord Ganesha as a symbol of attainment (i.e. of perfection)

  • Mangoes provide 100% of the daily vitamin C, 35% of vitamin A and 12% of daily fiber
  • A one-cup serving is 100 calories
  • Mangoes are fat-, sodium-, and cholesterol-free.  Whoopee!
  • Mangoes are antioxidant rich --think carotenoids such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene and phenolic compounds as well
  • Mangoes contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals, which makes them a superfood
  • Mangoes contain a variety of nutrients, such as copper, vitamin B6, folate, and more
  • Mangoes are diet-friendly--they are naturally sweet, so eating them can help quash cravings for sugary sweets
  • Mangoes consist of about 83% water, which helps you feel full
  • Like pineapples and papayas, mangoes have a natural tenderizing properties, making them a popular ingredient in marinades for meats and poultry

    Selection and Ripening:
    • Gently squeeze a mango to judge its ripeness; it will give slightly when ripe and will ripen further at room temperature over a few days
    • Ripe mangoes smell like heaven (my words, not the Mango Board's)
    • Color is not a determinate of ripeness--red does not mean ripe.
    • Like peaches or avocados, mangoes become softer as they ripen

    Eating Mangoes and Mango Cuisine:
    • Mangoes are often sold in Latin American countries on a stick with the skin peeled back (often with chile; often cut into a beautiful design)
    • Mangoes are used unripe or green in chutneys, pickles, and even salads
    • Mangoes make a great addition to smoothies
    • Mangoes are used in curries and dahls
    • In Mexico, mangoes are often eaten with chile, salt, and lime juice
    • Mangoes are used in sweet preparations such as drinks, ice cream, pies, cakes, and more
    • For Mexican cuisine aficionados, mangoes make a great salsa and also are wonderful when added to guacamole
    • Both "mangos" and "mangoes" are acceptable spellings for the plural form of mango, and thought I prefer the former, for inexplicable reasons I have forced myself to include the "e" in this post.  Go figure.

    The beginnings of some mango "roses"

    The finished masterpiece--of which the students were justifiably proud

    Cook's Notes:  This recipe, as written, didn't provide enough soaking syrup for our dish.
    We had to make extra.  I think using two mangoes and two pits and doubling the other syrup ingredients would take care of that.  The extra mango pulp in the filling would not detract.  The flavor is heavenly with only one mango, but delicate.  A bit more pulp would simply give it some "punch." 
    The original recipe does not include liqueur, but of course I had to add it, and it worked beautifully.  We also shaved the mango with a vegetable peeler go get the strips to make the "roses."  If you don't have a round glass dish like this or a bowl for trifle, simply make it in any ceramic mold.  I love the look of the mango roses atop the dish, but cubes ore plain slivers would work if you don't feel "fiddly."

    Mango Tiramisu

    (Recipe adapted from

    Serves 8

    40 lady fingers (savoiardi) 
    For the filling:
    240 grams or 1 cup mascarpone chees , at room temperature
    1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream, chilled
    52 grams or 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
    1 mango, pureed
    For the syrup:
    pit of the mango
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    360 ml or 1 1/2 cups water
    2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur such as Controy
    For decoration (optional):
    1 mango, sliced thin

    Prepare the syrup by boiling the pit with the water and sugar , and then simmering it until it reduces to about one cup. Strain into a wide bowl, add Grand Marnier, and cool to room temperature.

    For the filling: whip one cup of the chilled cream to stiff peaks. Keep aside. Whisk together the mango puree, icing sugar and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Fold this mixture into the heavy cream. Keep chilled until required.

    For the assembly : dip the lady fingers one by one in the syrup, tap out excess and line in your serving dish or plate. Spread a layer of the filling (about 1/2 cup). Lay down another layer of soaked lady fingers , topped by the filling. Continue with as many layers of lady fingers as you want. Spread the remaining filling on top.  Chill 4 to 6 hours.  Top with mango slices if desired.

    Not just a pretty face...this dessert was just a delicate taste sensation

    Parting Shot:  Simple Mexican Beauty

    In Mexico it seems that I can always find understated beauty in the nicest of ways...

    ©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

    Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
    San Miguel de Allende, México

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach Mojo Shrimp Skewers

    Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach Mojo Shrimp

    Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach Mojo Shrimp
    by Victoria Challancin

    The Spanish term chile relleno often conjures up an image of a fat, battered-fried pre-roasted green poblano chile stuffed (mainly) with cheese and bathed in a tomato broth called caldillo de jitomate, or light tomato sauce.  Rightly so, as this is a popular and well-known dish beloved throughout Mexico.  But of course, chile relleno simply means "stuffed chile," no matter the type of chile itself (poblano, jalapeño, pasilla, ancho--fresh or dried, battered or not) stuffed with something (often cheese, but also chicken, meat, and seafood).  Obviously, given the number of varieties of chiles in Mexico, the options of combinations seem endless.

    This version that I taught in a cooking class for Mexican cooks last week, is a lovely, modern twist on a classic recipe which I found in a favorite blog: Half Baked Harvest.  You begin by fire-roasting fresh poblano chiles over an open flame.  The chiles are sweated, peeled, and deseeded.  These are then stuffed with a good Mexican melting cheese and served with mojo-marinated shrimp over a lovely salad of grilled corn, tomatoes, mango, peach, cilantro, and more.

    What is a Mojo, you ask?
    Throughout the Caribbean and South American various marinades or salsas, called mojos are used to flavor chicken, meat, and seafood. Often these are made with some sort of citrus and are redolent with fresh herbs and garlic.  These can also be used to flavor vegetables, such as the starchy cassava tuber.  Glorious with seafood, these mojos also shine with meat, such as the bitter orange-garlic-olive oil mojo used to marinate the famous Cuban pork--a dish I grew up enjoying and loving in the South Florida of my youth.  These marinades, or salsas, give a tropical pop to anything they touch, so don't be afraid to separate this sauce from the recipe and try it in other dishes!

    More Information of Mexican Cheeses:
    If you would like more in-depth information on Mexican cheeses and how to use them, see my post on United Mexican Cheeses here.

    The Mexican cooks were surprised and delighted with this version of a chile relleno.  And why not?  It had a fresh tropical tang to it, like a sprightly dance of fruit, rum, and sun on the tongue.  And the bit of left-over salad was perhaps even better the next day!

    Cook's Notes:  Because I live in Mexico where so many chiles are available, I used the poblano chile called for in the recipe.  However, if you don't have fresh poblano chiles, you could easily substitute anaheim chiles, any large dried chile such as ancho, which is actually a dried poblano.  Other fresh or dried chiles could be used, even the zero-heat bell pepper would work fine.  The sprightly mojo could be used on tofu, chicken or pork, or any seafood, including scallops, squid, octopus, and fish.  As for cheeses, you simply need a not overly-strong melting cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack) mixed with a bit of feta, if you don't have good Mexican cheeses available to you.  No peaches?  No problem.
    Nectarines, plums, and even pears would mix in well here.  Use your imagination.  I can't imagine how you could go wrong--this is a wonderful recipe with lots of possibilities.

    The Recipe:  Grilled Chiles Rellenos with Chipotle Mango-Peach (or Nectarine) Mojo Shrimp Skewers
    (Recipe from Half Baked Harvest)
    Serves 4

    For the Shrimp:
    1 cup fresh cilantro
    1/4 cup lime juice
    1/4 cup mango juice
    1/4 cup coconut rum (optional)
    1-2 chipotle chile peppers in adobo (I used 2)
    1 teaspoon fish sauce
    1/3 cup olive oil
    2 cloves garlic
    pinch of salt and pepper
    1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled + deveined

    For the Peppers + Salad:
    6 poblano peppers
    4 ears corn, husked
    2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro
    2 tablespoon lime juice
    1 clove garlic, minced or grated
    1 peach, chopped (nectarine would work as well)
    1/2 cup mango, chopped
    1 jalapeño chile, seeded + chopped
    1/2 onion, chopped
    8 ounces (or more) Mexican melting cheese  (Asadero, Manchego, Oaxacan--I used Asadero)
    4 ounces cotija cheese, plus more for serving (you can substitute feta)

    To make the shrimp, combine in a blender 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/4 cup mango juice, 1/4 cup coconut rum, chipotle chiles, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Add the shrimp to a gallon size ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the shrimp. Seal the bag and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    Meanwhile start the peppers and salad. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Rub the poblano peppers and corn with a little olive oil. Place them on the grill. Grill the peppers and corn, covered, over medium heat about 10 minutes or until peppers are charred all over and the corn is lightly browned, turning the corn and peppers once or twice during cooking. Remove the peppers and corn from the grill and allow to cool.
    Once the corn is cool, cut the kernels away from the cob and add to a large bowl. To the bowl add the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 clove garlic, peach and mango. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.

    --> Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a medium skillet and set over medium heat. Add the the onion and jalapeño. Sauté until soft and almost caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

    Parting Shot:  Hand-Blown Mexican Glass Heart Decoration

    ©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

    Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
    San Miguel de Allende, México