My first taste of a mango was of a warm, overripe and, I'm now guessing, slightly fermented specimen straight from the tree in the middle of a hot Australian summer. It was an experience I was not keen to repeat. So it came as a pleasant surprise to me that cooked is something well worth considering. When the mango is just cooked and has still not quite returned to room temperature, the heavily caramelised fruit has the texture of a condensed crème brûlée.
2 large ripe mangoes
100 g lightly packed dark brown sugar
125mL pure cream
125mL coconut cream
Lime or lemon wedges, for squeezing
Cut the four chubby cheeks from your mangoes; keep the skin on, but score the flesh side with the pointy end of a small, sharp knife in a crisscross fashion, cutting about halfway to the skin.
Coat the cut flesh with the brown sugar, giving each cheek a little flex to open its cuts and let the sugar in. Put the cheeks to the side while you prepare a whipped mango fool to go with it.
Cut and scrape away any mango flesh stuck to the pit and purée in a blender until smooth. Combine the cream and coconut cream in a bowl and whisk to silky, soft peaks, then fold through the puréed mango flesh; it doesn’t need to be fully incorporated, a little streakiness is fine. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
When you’re ready to roll, heat the oven to 220 C (if you have a wood-fired oven, this is its moment). Warm a well-seasoned cast-iron pan big enough to hold the cheeks in one layer over high heat. Once the pan is smoking, lay your cheeks in, flesh-side down. Give them half a minute on the stove, then place the pan straight into the hot oven.
Let the mango cook for 3–4 minutes until just softened and surrounded by caramelised and slightly burnt sugar. Roll the cheeks gently around to capture as much of the sugar as possible, then transfer them to a plate to cool to room temperature.
Eat your mangoes with a spoon, straight from the skin, seasoned with a little sprinkle of flaky sea salt, a spritz of fresh lime or lemon juice and a large dollop of the whipped mango fool.
Photo Credits: Patrician Niven