It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, it’s mango season! Specifically champagne/ataúlfo mango season. We might be able to find mangoes year round in most parts of the United States, but it’s typically the larger red and green skinned varieties which tend to be less sweet and more fibrous. Ataúlfo mangoes on the other hand are beautifully golden hued on the inside and out, they border on too sweet with the most delicate buttery flesh. I’m smitten, usually skipping whole meals just so I can stuff more mangoes into my belly. And I love that in season also means well priced, and I can often buy whole cases of them for less than $1/mango. This means I regularly find myself with some 18 ripe mangoes that need to be finished within days of each other. Challenge accepted! Again, and again, and again, at least until the season is over and I have to bide my time until next year.
Does my love of mangoes come from my cultural heritage? Maybe. Growing up in the Midwest in the 90s, we didn’t have many options for having mangoes. But every so often a severely underripe mango or two would make there way onto the shelves of our local grocery store only to be snatched up immediately by my dad. We’d stick them in a paper bag next to the bananas to try and get as much ripening out of them as possible. Once you could catch whiffs of that sweet mango nectar from the stem we’d cut into them and divide them up between us. Even our dog would get his share, chewing off whatever was left from the pit [I do not recommend you let your dog chew on the pit, as it’s a possible choking hazard]. The mangoes we’d get in those days were usually lacking in flavor and would be so fibrous that we’d be left with strings of fruit in our teeth. But nothing could beat my dad’s excitement for a taste of his childhood in Sindh, surrounded with mango trees and what he says were the best mangoes in the entire world.
I am so glad that those champagne mangoes have exploded in popularity across the US, because mangoes are my favorite things. And while I love eating them plain, they also make the best desserts. Like these seriously adorable mango tarts, with juicy fruit, a buttery shortbread crust, and lusciously silky vanilla pastry cream. I love making them into individually sized tartlets as it’s the perfect presentation, but it’s also stunning when made into one full sized tart.
The base for these tarts is a shortbread pastry crust. It’s a crumbly and cookie-like pastry, and super easy to make. The fat is rubbed into the flour to coat the grain which makes for the most tender of crusts, as this prevents gluten networks from forming. A little powdered sugar sweetens the base slightly and acts to tenderize the pastry further. With this method, little to no water is needed to form the dough. Once the dough holds together nicely when squeezed it can be pressed into the tart shells. No rolling required!
I place strips of parchment paper underneath the tart dough as my tartlet shells do not have removable bottoms and this way I can easily remove the tart shells after baking. The tart shells are blind baked, which means they’re baked until done before filling with the pastry cream. To blind bake the bottoms are pricked to help the tart shells keep their shape and then topped with a piece of parchment paper which is weighted down with either pie weights or dried beans or dried rice. The shells are baked until set, then the weights and parchment are removed so the tarts can fully bake and set. We don’t want to have any soggy bottoms!
The pastry cream is made from a mixture of cashews and coconut cream and sweetened with maple syrup or agave and subtly flavored with a splash of vanilla extract. A little squeeze of lemon juice helps cut through the sweetness to keep the tart from being cloying while a pinch of salt enhances the flavor. Refined coconut oil helps the pastry cream thicken when cooled. The cashews are soaked so they’re able to blend up extra smooth and silky along with the rest of the ingredients. The pastry cream can then be poured into the baked and cooled tart shells. It’s pretty runny at this point, but will thicken as it cools in the fridge. Pro-tip: Any leftover pastry cream can be spooned over fresh fruit (like more mangoes!), and enjoyed for a delicious special fruit treat.
Once the pastry cream is thickened enough to support the weight of the mango, slice up your mango and shape into a rose or layer the slices as desired to decorate the tart. Here’s a handy video of how to make a mango rose if you’re more of a visual learner.
These tarts are quite easy to make, and when well sealed and stored in the refrigerator they can be made up to a day in advance. You can continue to eat them for up to 3 days after they’re made (as long as your mango wasn’t overly ripe), but the mangoes will start to brown a little.
I do hope you are enjoying spring so far, if not the weather, then at least the fresh produce that’s started to pop up! And I hope you love these tartlets as much as we did! Let me know if you make them! Comment and rate the recipe below and tag recreations @thecuriouschickpea and #thecuriouschickpea on Instagram, or share with me on Facebook! And for more mango inspiration, I highly recommend that you sip on some cool mango lassi’s while you make these tarts!
- Use ripe mangoes to top these tartlets. They should feel firm if gently squeezed but not too soft or mushy. You should be able to smell the mango scent from the stem even better if it’s leaking a little sticky juice from the top, and if the skins a little wrinkly (if using champagne/ataúlfo mangoes) that’s just fine!
- Be careful cutting the mangoes after they’ve been peeled, they’re quite slippery!
- 1½ cups (205g) flour
- ¼ cup (25g) powdered sugar
- ½ cup (113g) vegan butter
- water if needed, added by the teaspoon
- 1½ cups cashews, soaked* and drained
- ¾ cup coconut cream, scooped from the top of a can of coconut milk*
- ⅓ cup maple syrup or agave
- ¼ cup refined coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 ripe mangoes
- Preheat the oven to 350 ºF and prepare your tartlet pans. If they do not have removable bottoms place two or more strips of parchment, crossed, in each pan. These can be used as handles to gently remove the tart shells once they are baked.
- In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour and powdered sugar. Add the vegan butter in cubes and use your hands to rub the fat into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and no lumps of butter remain.
- Continue working the flour mixture to bring it together. It should squeeze together in your hand to form a delicate but pliable dough. If needed, and 1 teaspoon of water at a time, stirring it in with a wooden spoon, until the dough comes together.
- Take about ¼ cup of dough to fill a 4" tartlet pan and press the dough into the pan (overtop the strips of parchment) trying to be as even as possible over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Repeat with the remaining 5 tartlet pans and place all the tarts onto a rimmed baking sheet. Poke the bottom of the tartlets several times with a fork.
- Take a square of parchment and cover the dough. Pour some dried beans, dried rice, or pie weights over each tartlet.
- Place the baking tray with the prepared tart shells into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift away the parchment holding the pie weights. Return the tart shells to the oven and bake another 5 minutes, or until the dough no longer looks raw and is a light golden. Remove from the oven and let cool down completely. The tart shell will remain soft until it cools. Once completely cool remove the shells from the tartlet pans.
- Make the pastry cream. Place all of the pastry cream ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy.
- Pour the pastry cream into the cooled tart shells and place the tarts into the fridge for the pastry cream to firm up for at least 30 minutes.
- When ready, cut the mango to top the pastry cream. Peel the mangoes and cut each side off the pit. To make a rosette, thinly cut the mango width-wise, to make short slices and separate the slices so they are only overlapping about ½ to ⅓ of the way. Roll the mangoes in so that the slices wrap around each other to make the rosette. Gently transfer the rosette using a spatula onto the chilled pastry. Lightly press the mango down so it sinks into the pastry cream just a little. Alternatively you can cut the mangoes into slightly thicker slices widthwise and arrange them over the pastry cream as desired.
- Serve the tarts chilled.
- To store, keep the tarts tightly wrapped in the fridge and eat within 2 to 3 days. The mangoes will start to discolor if cut too long. You can always wait to add the mango to the pastry filled tart shells until ready to eat.
*If the coconut milk is an emulsified liquid, use only ½ cup coconut milk and increase the coconut oil to ½ cup.