A wheeled cornucopia goes down our street every day, with vendors selling everything ripe and local out of the backs of their trucks. In the summer, I can step out of the gate and buy mangoes by the kilo. Until then, I have to walk a block to the nearest store for mangoes coming from further south.
Until we moved to Mexico, I never knew the aroma and taste of mangoes picked ripe and juicy. And the variety! The common Tommy Atkins, known familiarly as “Tommy” in Mexico, the luscious Ataulfo, also called the Champagne mango, the large, firm Haden, the Keitt, still green when ripe, and the Kent mango, almost fiberless. These are the common mangoes of Mexico, exported by the ton, maybe coming this summer to a supermarket near you. When you find some, eat them raw and fresh, standing over the sink — or better yet, in the surf — so as not to drip the staining juices on your shirt. If there are any left over, make Mango Coconut Tres Leches Cake.
Tres Leches cakes are the cake of Mexico. Probably of European origin, this cake is known for its high moisture level, due to its saturation with three milks — condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. Some think it is too wet. Well, that is part of its charm. If it wasn’t wet, it wouldn’t be a tres leches cake, just another white frosted cake. My cakes are hardly ever white, nor are they overly sweet. As in many of my baking recipes, this one has whole wheat flour and decreased sugar. It also has coconut oil instead of butter and coconut milk instead of dairy milk. The inspiration came from a recent recipe in the New York Times for Mango Tres Leches Cake. Its addition of Spanish brandy is a touch of genius.
This was one of those rare times when I actually had an uncommon ingredient on hand, thanks to Costco. If you don’t have Spanish brandy, cognac is fine. If you don’t have cognac, the cake will still be very good.
Coconut Mango Tres Leches Cake
- 1 1/2 cups (6.5 oz./185 grams) sifted whole wheat flour*
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz./100 grams) plus 1/4 cup (1.75 oz./50 grams) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (3.5 grams) salt
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 5 tablespoons ( 2.25 oz./63 grams) melted coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups (17 oz./240 grams) cubed mango
- 2 cups (473 ml.) unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 can (14 oz./397 grams) condensed sweetened milk
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60ml.) Spanish brandy or cognac (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml.) very cold heavy cream (called crema para batir in Mexico)
- Butter a 9-inch-by-13-inch (23 cm. x 33 cm.) baking pan; heat oven to 350 deg. F. (180 C.).
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar.
- In a large bowl, stir together egg yolks, melted coconut oil, 3 tablespoons coconut milk and vanilla.
- Beat egg whites until frothy, add cream of tartar. Before peaks form, add 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until slightly stiff.
- Whisk half of flour mixture into yolk mixture. Whisk in 1/4 egg whites. Carefully fold in another 1/4 egg whites with a large spatula or balloon whisk.
- Sift half of remaining flour mixture into batter, and fold in. Fold in 1/4 egg whites. Fold in remaining flour mixture. Fold in remaining egg white. Do not over-mix.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and bake 25 minutes, or until center tests dry with a wooden toothpick. Cool on a rack.
- In a small pan, heat coconut milk, condensed milk and brandy until hot. Pour over cake. Cover and chill cake for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Puree mango in a food processor until smooth. Add additional sugar to taste if the mango is not sweet.
- At serving time, whip cream until stiff. Fold in half of mango puree. Spread mango cream over the cake. Spoon remaining puree on top and swirl into whipped cream with a spatula.
~ * After sifting, you should have 1 1/2 cups of flour; save bran for muffins or bread.
~ When whipping cream, especially in the summertime, use very cold cream, and pre-chill the mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer. This will prevent you from unexpectedly making butter instead.
~ Use organic ingredients when possible. This minimizes our exposure to pesticides and herbicides, as well as lessening contamination in water and soil. The Coconut Mango Tres Leches Cake was made with organic coconut milk, organic coconut oil, organic sugar, eggs from free-range chickens and locally grown, unsprayed mangoes.