Watalappan (Sri Lankan coconut milk custard)

Sri Lankan watalappan with mango and bananaAnother week, another Sri Lankan feast! This time, my husband cooked lots of rice and curry for our friends, and I made a dessert that we had a fair bit of when we were on honeymoon – watalappan, a set custard made with jaggery, coconut milk and lots of spices.

This is a great dinner party recipe, as it can be made in advance and left in the fridge until required. I used this recipe by Peter Kuruvita, who has also written a brilliant Sri Lankan cookbook that we use and that apparently is considered something of a bible by chefs in Sri Lanka!

I followed the recipe exactly, but I served it with toasted fresh coconut, in-season Indian mango and sliced Keralan bananas, which were the closest thing we could find to the bananas we ate a lot of in Sri Lanka. I also drizzled the plate with golden syrup as recommended by Kuruvita as a substitute for palm syrup.

The only tricky thing was baking the custards – they seemed to take longer than stated, but I reckon that’s just my oven rather than the recipe being at fault. They did eventually cook after I turned the heat up slightly.

The resulting dessert was rather wonderful – the sweet, spiced coconut custard combined with juicy mango and flavoursome bananas offered a perfect balance of flavours. It’s a great recipe to use if you’re planning a Sri Lankan or Indian feast and want an easy dessert that will impress!

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Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese filling

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing I’ve been thinking about making this coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing for a while. It’s basically my trusty mango and coconut cake with some cardamom added to the cake mix, but that one extra ingredient really does transform the cake into something else entirely! It’s Indian mango season at the moment, which meant that I could use the most delicious mango in this recipe.

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing
Funnily enough, just when I decided to make it, I also ended up acquiring the new recipe book from GBBO’s Chetna Makan, who, as is well documented on this blog, is one of my favourite GBBO contestants EVER. There’s a mango, coconut and cardamom cake early on in The Cardamom Trail, which must mean that we’re kindred spirits, right?! However, Chetna’s cake is much more impressive-looking than mine, although I suspect that they taste very similar!

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing
Anyway, back to my cake. It was all very straightforward to make. I did end up with runny cream cheese icing again, but that meant I had an excellent excuse to use only as much as would fill the cake without it running over the sides and, er, safely disposing of the rest. In my stomach. I think I might try making the icing with mascarpone next time to see if it comes out any thicker!

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese filling recipe

Serves 10

For the sponge layers:

  • 175g/6oz softened butter
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 175g/6oz self raising flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 75g/2oz dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream (I used Patak’s coconut cream, which comes in sachets)
  • 0.5 tsp ground cardamom (equivalent to the seeds of about 6-7 green cardamom pods)

For the filling:

  • 100g soft cheese (or try mascarpone!)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 50g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 0.5 medium, ripe mango
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Butter and line the base of two 20 cm/8 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Gently stir in the dessicated coconut, coconut cream and cardamom.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes until evenly golden and firm.
  4. Loosen the edges and leave the tins to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer on to a wire rack to cool. Peel off the lining paper.
  5. Peel the mango, slice it away from the stone and chop into smaller chunks. Mash it to a pulp (you can use a food processor for a fine texture or a potato masher/fork for a chunkier one).
  6. Beat together the other filling ingredients and then stir in the mango.
  7. Spread one of the sponge layers with the filling and place the other on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Re-bake: mango and coconut cake

Mango and coconut cakeYes, mango. And coconut. AGAIN. I do love both of these ingredients a lot, so any excuse to throw them together is most welcome. The excuse this time was that my mum recently went to India for a cousin’s wedding, and brought back some mangoes in various states of ripeness. I immediately ate the really ripe ones, and saved a not quite ripe one to use in a cake when ready.

I’ve made a variation on this before – mango, banana and coconut cake. This went well, but I didn’t have any banana this time round and so I used a different recipe for the coconut sponge layers. I stuck to the cream cheese and mango filling, though, as it was so delicious last time.

Coconut sponge layersThe sponges came out perfectly, even though (especially because?) I added just a little extra dessicated coconut. Because I didn’t put any mango pulp in the cake itself, I used the whole mango to make the filling.

This meant I ended up with a LOT of it, and it was also a little runnier than I remember it being last time! However, this didn’t really matter – it just meant I could ladle some filling over the cake for a particularly luscious pudding.

Mango and coconut cakeThe finished cake was, quite simply, AWESOME. It was very, very coconutty and yet the mango was strong enough to hold up against it, creating a somewhat orgasmic flavour. I think this is probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever made!

Mango and coconut cakeI would heartily recommend making this if you can get hold of some proper Indian/Pakistani mangoes this summer. It’s probably best to just use half of the mango in the filling to prevent it from becoming too runny, but it’s no bad thing if you throw the whole lot in like I did!

The recipe

Adapted from two recipes in BBC Good Food’s 101 Cakes & Bakes:

For the sponge layers:

  • 175g/6oz softened butter
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 175g/6oz self raising flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 75g/2oz dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream or single cream (I used Patak’s coconut cream, which comes in sachets)

For the filling:

  • 200g soft cheese
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 25g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 0.5 to 1 medium, ripe mango
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line the base of two 20 cm/8 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Gently stir in the coconut and cream.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes until evenly golden and firm.
  4. Loosen the edges and leave the tins to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer on to a wire rack to cool. Peel off the lining paper.
  5. Peel the mango, slice it away from the stone and chop into smaller chunks. Mash it to a pulp (you can use a food processor for a fine texture or a potato masher/fork for a chunkier one).
  6. Beat together the other filling ingredients and then stir in the mango. You can either stir it all in (but you’ll probably end up with lots/a runnier filling) or stir half of it in and use the rest of the pulp as another layer in the cake/on top or in another recipe!
  7. Spread one of the sponge layers with the filling and place the other on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

First bake: mango and dark chocolate cookies

Mango and dark chocolate cookiesOne of the many foods I’m completely in love with is mango. It’s only at it’s best in the summer, when a fresh crop arrives from India/Pakistan – otherwise, it’s just not right. However, I impulse-bought some dried mango the other week and just as impulsively decided to fling it in some cookies with some dark chocolate.

Mango and dark chocolate cookies 3

I adapted a cookie recipe in my trusty BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes book for this, and it worked well. I tried a piece of mango before I put it in the dough, and it was rather chewy. I hoped that it wouldn’t be as chewy after baking, but it was still a little tough. However, the combination of the fruit and the chocolate and the lovely, sugary cookie dough was still fantastic!

Mango and dark chocolate cookie dough

Mango and dark chocolate cookie dough

I’m not sure if I’d be able to make these with fresh mango, as the fruit would be too wet. However, it could be worth slightly drying out pieces of fresh mango and trying them that way. Making these cookies has made me determined to invent a mango and chocolate cake in the summer, though, so I think that will be my next mango-based bake!

Mango and dark chocolate cookies

The recipe

Adapted from the recipe for Smarties cookies in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes.

Makes 14 cookies

  • 100g/4oz butter, softened
  • 100g/4oz light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 50g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 75g dried mango pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Line two baking trays with baking paper (or bake in batches).

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy, then beat in the syrup.

3. Stir in half the flour. Stir the chocolate and mango into the remaining flour and stir into the mix, working together with your fingers to create a dough.

4. Divide into 14 balls, space them well apart on the baking trays and flatten slightly with your fingers.

5. Bake for 12 minutes until pale golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipes from around the web

Lots more baking recipes I want to try have recently come to my attention. I’ve only made the coconut and raspberry cheesecake from the last wishlist I posted, but I can’t resist adding even more recipes to my binder!

1) Spiced mango naan bread (Great British Bake Off)

I’m a huge fan of GBBO and, while I generally want to bake pretty much everything I see on this show, this particular recipe from the second episode of the current series is top of my list. Mangoes! Spices! Naan! What a great combination.

2) Almond spice cake (The Caked Crusader)

This blog never fails to please with its wonderful recipes. The Caked Crusader blogged about this particular cake in the same week I made my spiced honey cake – a sure sign we’re kindred baking spirits! Almonds are possibly my favourite nut to bake with, so this cake definitely has to be made.

3) Volcano cake (BBC Good Food)

What a wonderful idea for a celebratory cake! I love the lava spouting out of the top and the dinosaurs rambling around the volcano. I’m not sure when I’ll actually get a chance to make this, though – is there a National Volcano Day or something?!

4) Pistachio and pecan cheesecake with hot chocolate sauce (Come Dine With Me)

This is another food show I’m a massive fan of! This recipe is actually pretty old, but it’s been in my bookmarks for ages and I haven’t yet got round to making it – hopefully I will do soon. The sauce has to be a winner – melted Mars bars and amaretto? Genius!

5) Grasmere gingerbread (BBC Food)

I originally came across a recipe for Grasmere gingerbread in this month’s Asda magazine, and was immediately intrigued, as I love the Lake District and any recipe from somewhere that scenic – and that’s stood the test of time since the 19th century – has to be brilliant! I can’t find Asda’s recipe online, but this BBC Food version should give you some idea of the flavours.

First bake: mango, banana and coconut cake

Mango, banana and coconut cake

The Indian mango season is well underway, so I thought I’d make the most of the current crop with this cake, another stroke of genius from BBC Good Food. Indian (and Pakistani) mangoes are, in my opinion, the best mangoes you’ll ever try, and certainly far superior to the ones you get in the supermarket thanks to their incredible sweetness and juiciness.

You can buy these mangoes over the summer (May to July, roughly) from pretty much any Indian grocer/cash and carry – cities and large towns are your best bet. They start importing them fairly early on, and sell them by the box, but they’re usually cheapest in the middle of the season. My mum bought a box of these a couple of weeks ago, and we spent a good few evenings gorging ourselves on them. She saved one for me to use in my baking, and by the time I got round to doing so it was incredibly ripe – perfect for a cake!

As may have been mentioned before, I’m also a huge coconut fan – and I love bananas too, making this a rather excellent cake for me to try. As with most BBC Good Food recipes, this is a doddle to make. The faffiest bit was pulping the raw mango, which only took a few minutes to do anyway, as it was so ripe and soft.

The bananas I used weren’t particularly ripe, unfortunately, but it doesn’t seem to have detracted from the overall flavour of the cake. Texture-wise, the crumb is quite large and dense – much like you’d expect from a tealoaf or a traditional fruit cake. For me, the coconut could have been a stronger flavour, but I suspect that’s just because I can’t get enough of it! My sponges were thicker than those in the picture in the book, but I think my tins were 18cm in diameter, rather than 20cm – but this didn’t make any difference whatsoever to the final result.

Mango, banana and coconut cake

The winning element of this cake is definitely the cream cheese filling. Half of the mango pulp goes into the cake, while the rest goes into the filling, making for a wonderfully moreish concoction. The mango flavour is definitely stronger in the filling than in the cake itself, so it’s wise not to skimp on the puree in the filling.

Mango and cream cheese filling

Mango and cream cheese filling

Overall, this cake is fantastic. Using Indian mangoes as opposed to the stringier, less flavoursome ones that are available all year round definitely makes a difference – I can’t imagine it being as good using the latter. If I make this again (and I probably will!) I’ll up the amount of dessicated coconut I put in, or even use fresh grated coconut, to completely and utterly satisfy my tastebuds. I can’t recommend this recipe enough – this cake is definitely the perfect summer dessert.

Mango, banana and coconut cake

The recipe

Taken from BBC Good Food 1o1 Cakes & Bakes.