Liam Turns Five: Mango Tart with Coconut Crust and Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

My friend Liam had several very specific requests for his birthday cake this year. In order of preference, he asked for: 1) a mango cake; 2) strawberry cupcakes; and 3) a vanilla cake with sprinkles and M&Ms. I decided to try to accommodate requests #1 and #2, especially because I already made #3 for Liam's birthday last year.

The problem was, I didn't have a recipe handy for a mango cake. I searched through my cookbooks and also online, and I didn't find anything that appealed to me. So I decided to cheat and make a mango tart instead. I went full-blown tropical and selected a Gourmet recipe for Mango Tart with Coconut Crust.

The crust is a mixture of flour, toasted sweetened coconut, cold butter, powdered sugar, and salt that you combine in the food processor. You are supposed the press the dough into a tart pan, but I was able to roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper. Then I put the rolled crust in the pan, stuck the pan in the freezer for a few minutes, and baked the crust until golden.

Making the filling is easy, but it requires some time. You puree chopped mango with sugar, lime juice, and salt, add in some dissolved gelatin, and fold the fruit mixture into a little bit of heavy cream that has been beaten to stiff peaks. You quick chill the filling until it's thickened and pour it into the crust. I chilled the tart overnight to set the filling, and right before serving, I topped the tart with some diced mango, lime zest, and toasted coconut. I stuck birthday candles in it and tried to pass it off as a birthday cake.
Liam really did want a mango cake and not a tart, so he was less than thrilled. In general, the tart did not appeal to the kids. However, it was a big hit with the adults at the party. It was full of pure, sweet, mango flavor. The crust was delicious but also very firm and it was impossible to cut through with a plastic fork; I was advising people to pick up the tart and eat it as a hand food. While the tart tasted great, it did not hold up well at room temperature. I definitely noticed the filling starting to droop as the party wore on. Still, this was a terrific dessert and I was happy with the way it turned out.

Fortunately, Liam's requested strawberry cupcakes drew raves all around. I used a recipe from Food and Wine that I tried once a few years ago. I hypothesized back then that adding some freeze dried strawberries to the batter might improve the recipe, and it turns out that I was right. I added 3/4 cup of crumbled freeze dried berries to the batter this time, and they definitely upped the strawberry flavor and made for a tastier cupcake.
Party guests commented on how nice and fresh the strawberry flavor was in both the cupcake and the frosting. Importantly, Liam loved his cupcake, eating the entire bottom portion after first licking of all of the frosting as if it were an ice cream cone. I really need to make these cupcakes more often, because they are simply delightful. And let's face it, they are obviously more appropriate for a child's birthday party than a mango tart!

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Louise said…
I would have made Vanilla Cake with Sprinkles and M&Ms. I have been wanting to make either a tie dyed cake or one with colored cake balls inside but have hesitated because I didn't want to eat ordinary cake. Until this post, I never thought of using the White-out Cake recipe. Now I know that I'll just have to do it. : )