Of all the memories of days past that involved mangoes, two incidents stand out in stark detail. The first harks back to the mid seventies when my dad had ordered 2 'tokris' (large baskets the size of tyres) of Ratnagiri Alphonso mangoes direct from the farm. En route home from picking them up, the bus we were traveling in, collided with another vehicle, but luckily, no one got hurt. What I still remember was the explicit relief that the mangoes were safe and did not scatter away or get damaged. Talk about priorities when you're five years old!
The second was when a group of friends from Hostel 10 at the Indian Institute of Technology decided to pick a 10 gallon sized bucket's worth of the tartest, unripe mangoes from the trees that were practically sprouting branches through our room windows. At the end of the day there was a wingful of 20 year old girls with horribly zinging sensitive teeth and about 1/2 a pound of Salt/chili powder mix, not to mention the insane amount of raw mangoes wreaking havoc on our digestive system.
What I wouldn't to relive that incident all over again!
Well, those days of juggling a schedule of choosing from about a dozen mango cultivars making their sequential entrance at the market are long gone, and these days, its a choice between either those terrible excuses of a mongrel hybrid, the fibrous, tasteless Tommy Atkins & Hadens, or the delicious golden Champagne or Ataulfo mango, imported from Mexico.
Old habits die hard and I still can never buy just one or two mangoes. It always HAS to be by the box. The first box disappears in about three days, but then the time lag increases. By the time the third box arrives on the kitchen counter, it takes about a week to get polished off, & the mangoes start shriveling up. But, the level of sugars & the creamy texture in those late stragglers make them perfect for pies & tarts.
I've always been kind of weary when dealing with baked desserts, more so when the recipe involves a separate crust. This was my first attempt at winging the recipe taking notes about what I added as I prepared the dish. Needless to add, I'll be making this many many more times before the mango season comes to an end! The Custard is egg free and relies on the addition of cornflour to thicken the cream & mango.
Champagne mango Custard tart: (makes one 11' diameter tart)
For the Tart shell , you need:
20-25 Ginger snap biscuits
4 honey flavored graham crackers
1/2 cup Almond meal
1 stick butter (4 oz / 8 tablespoons)
Add the ginger snap cookies and the graham crackers in a food processor. Pulse for about 5 - 10 seconds and then continuously for about 2 minutes till it turns into a coarse mealy consistency. Add the Almond meal and pulse till it combines evenly with the cookie crumbs & there are no lumps of almond meal in the mixture. Transfer into a mixing bowl and using your hands, make a depression in the center.
Melt the stick of butter and pour into the 'well' of the cookie mixture. Fold in the dry mixture into the melted butter, ensuring that the butter coats the entire amount.
Using the tips of your fingers, press down the mixture over the bottom & sides of a 11' tart pan (with a removable base. Bake in a 250 F oven for about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool & chill in the refrigerator till its ready to use.
For the filling, you need:
4 Champagne Mangoes
1 cup Alphonso Mango pulp
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1.5 tablespoon corn flour
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
10-12 strands Saffron
10 - 12 pistachio nuts for 'microplaning' over the custard.
Peel and cut the 'cheeks' of the mango. Keeping the 'cheeks' cut side down, slice thinly.
Combine the heavy cream, mango pulp, sugar, cardamom and saffron along with the cornflour. Whisk to eliminate lumps. Heat the mix on a medium low flame, until the mixture attains a thick custard like consistency, whisking all the while to ensure that the texture is smooth. Remove from heat & cool slightly.
Arrange the mango slices on the tart shell, covering the bottom as completely as possible.
Spoon the mango custard mixture over the mango slices and grate the pistachio nuts evenly over the tart.
Bake for 20 minutes at 300 F until the mango whipped cream mixture appears set.
Allow to cool completely before placing in the refrigerator (covered with plastic wrap) to chill.
Cut into wedges and serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream.