Mango and Orange Blossom Pudding, Orange Polenta Biscuits
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 (makes about 22–24 shortbread biscuits)
It’s the time of year when our home-grown fruits are thin on the ground and so the taste of the exotics is welcomed with open arms. I grew up with mangoes being readily available and mum used to buy boxes at a time and ripen them between dad’s socks. Bizarre as this might sound, his wardrobe was the coolest and darkest place, and to ripen mangoes quickly you need to keep them in a dark, well-ventilated area and dad’s socks provided the perfect place!
There are many varieties of mango, but the finest one of them all is the Alphonso mango from India. Alphonsos are small, but once ripe, they pack a magnificent flavoursome punch. Their season is short and they are available for about 6 weeks from mid-April until the end of May.
I also love finding new ingredients, not necessarily new in the true sense of invention, but those forgotten ingredients from the past, which may have fallen out of food fashion. Orange blossom water is one of those ingredients that I remember using in top London restaurants about 15 years ago. Use it sparingly as it’s pretty powerful stuff. I am using it to make an orange blossom air for this recipe and it goes perfectly with the mango jellies and crumbly shortbread to create interesting textures in this truly delicious pudding.
Ingredients & Method
For the mango jellies
- 3 leaves of gelatine
- 150g prepared mango flesh (preferably Alphonso)
- 150ml chilled fresh unsweetened mango juice or orange juice
- 80g caster sugar
- 50ml double cream
For the polenta shortbread
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 55g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 50g fine polenta
- 100g plain flour
- 30g cornflour
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac
For the orange blossom air
- 2 leaves of gelatine
- 100ml double cream
- 50g caster sugar
- 300ml natural yogurt
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water, or to taste
- 1 large mango (300–325g unprepared weight), peeled, stoned and diced
- 2 oranges, peeled and segmented
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- a pinch of ground sumac
To make the mango jellies, place 6 serving glasses in the fridge. Soak the gelatine in cold water until it has softened.
Put the mango flesh, mango juice, sugar and cream into a blender and blend together until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Squeeze the gelatine gently to remove the excess water, then add the gelatine to the hot mango mixture and stir until dissolved. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve, then pour the mango mixture into the chilled serving glasses, dividing evenly. Carefully transfer the glasses to the fridge and leave to set completely – this will take 4–6 hours.
While the jellies are setting, make the polenta shortbread. Cream the butter, 55g sugar and the orange zest together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the polenta and beat together for 1 minute, then fold in the flour and cornflour to make a soft dough. Place the dough on a piece of cling film and form it into a sausage shape about 3cm in diameter. Wrap in the cling film and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (see Cook’s Notes).
Make the orange blossom air. Soak the gelatine in cold water until it has softened, then squeeze it gently to remove the excess water. Place the cream, soaked gelatine and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the simmering water underneath), and stir until the sugar and gelatine have dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the yogurt, then add the orange blossom water to taste. Pour the mixture into a cream whipper. Charge with 2 gas pellets, shake vigorously, then refrigerate for about 2 hours so that the mixture thickens and chills completely.
Meanwhile, bake the polenta shortbread. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Remove the cling film from the chilled shortbread dough and cut the sausage of dough into 5mm-thick slices, then roll the edges of each shortbread disc in caster sugar. Place on the prepared baking tray, leaving a little space between each one, then sprinkle with the sumac. Bake in the oven for 12–14 minutes or until cooked and very pale golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the biscuits with more caster sugar, then transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool completely (see Cook’s Notes).
Shake the cream whipper vigorously and squirt the orange blossom air into a glass to check if it is ready (if the mixture has set solidly, then hold the cream whipper under warm running water to loosen the mixture inside, then shake and use as directed).
To serve, mix the diced mango and orange segments together in a bowl, then divide the mixed fruit between the jelly glasses. Shake the cream whipper vigorously and squirt the orange blossom air on top of the fruit, then decorate with the chopped thyme and sumac. Serve immediately with 2–3 polenta shortbreads served alongside each portion.
The sumac bush grows throughout the Middle East and in parts of the Mediterranean and it produces small red berries. These berries are picked and dried (the colour of the dried berries darkens to a deep red) and they are used either whole or ground, mainly in Middle Eastern-style cooking. Sumac has a sharp, sour, lemony flavour. I use ground sumac to enhance or substitute citrus flavours and it works well in both sweet and savoury dishes.
The shortbread dough can be made a day in advance, rolled into a sausage shape and wrapped, then kept in the fridge overnight, before slicing and baking the next day, if you like. Alternatively, it can be made, shaped and wrapped, then frozen for up to 1 month. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight, then slice and bake as directed.
Store any leftover baked shortbread biscuits in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard for up to 5 days.