When I first heard about Twitter, I didn’t quite see the point of it. On the surface, it seemed like a new way to share Facebook status updates – a constant stream of “I like kittens” and “check out this funny LOLcat I just made” and “my cat’s breath smells like cat food”.
Eventually, though, I figured it out. It’s like standing in the middle of a cocktail party, where you can stand on the edge of a circle and listen in on the converation, or chime in when you’ve got an opinion you’d like to share.
So that’s what I started doing. I stopped passively listening and started sharing. I started chiming in when I had something to say, and lo and behold, sometimes people actually answered back and started a conversation. And somewhere along the way, I stumbled my way into becoming a part of a living, breathing, collaborative community of like-minded people who also write about food.
It’s a pretty lovely community, too. I’ve seen food bloggers rally together to raise funds after unimaginably big disasters in Haiti and Japan, and support each other through smaller, human-sized sorts of disasters – fires, floods, injuries and deaths. I suppose it’s because a love of food and cooking tends to attract a generous, giving sort of people, but it’s still pretty darn magical at times.
There’s a downside to belonging to that community, though.
Food bloggers talk about food. A lot. Constantly, even. So whenever I check in to see what’s going on in the Twitterverse, I end up getting very very very hungry.
The worst ones are the craving tweets. Perhaps it’s a case of monkey-see-monkey-do, or maybe it’s because people are particularly eloquent when describing something they desire at that moment in time… but whatever that craving is, I’ll inevitably find myself seized with an irresistible longing for the exact same thing.
Like this tweet from @destiniya:
After that, I spent the next three days suffering from a desperate need for puff pastry, coconut cream and fresh mango. Seriously. Desperate.
I had to make it.
And so I did. It took me a few tries to get it right, but on my last go, I ended up with exactly what my imagination had conjured up from that one tweet – a golden crisp puff pastry shell, a puddle of thick pastry cream spiked with coconut milk and dark spiced rum, thin slices of meltingly sweet Adolfo mango, and the barest dusting of lime zest to top it all off. It’s what happens when a French pastry pulls a Paul Gaugin and runs away to Tahiti. Classic and exotic, all in one.
I suppose, in the long run, these Twitter-induced cravings are as much a blessing as a curse… especially when they turn into happy endings like these. My hips and thighs won’t thank me for it, but my tastebuds certainly will. The frustration and the cellulite are the prices one has to pay for inspiration.
Thank you, Twitter (and Niya, too).
BTW, you’ll have a fair bit of leftover pastry cream. You can throw it in the ice cream maker and freeze it into an unbelieveably good coconut-vanilla ice cream, layer it with cubes of fresh fruit to make parfaits, or spoon it into baked tartlet shells and top with whipped cream and toasted coconut to make quickie coconut cream pies… or, if you’re feeling particularly gluttonous, just eat it with a spoon and call it a day.
- 1 can (398ml) unsweetened coconut milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- Pinch salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp dark spiced rum
- ½ cup whipping cream
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- 2 large Ataulfo mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- Zest of 1 lime
- Start by preparing the pastry cream. In a saucepan set over medium heat, stir together the coconut milk, sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and stir into the coconut milk, along with the pod. Heat, stirring occasionally, until small wisps of steam begin to appear. Remove the vanilla pod.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and corn starch until combined. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour one cup of hot coconut milk into the egg yolks to temper them, whisking until completely incorporated.
- Whisk the tempered yolks back into the remaining coconut milk in the saucepan, along with the rum. Cook the pastry cream on medium-high for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a silicone spatula, or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, laying the wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. (Pastry cream can be prepared up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
- Meanwhile, prepare the pastry shells. Start by preheating the oven to 375F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the puff pastry into a 10×12″ rectangle and cut into four pieces, each one 5×6″. Transfer to the prepared cookie sheet.
- Using a sharp knife, score a 1″ border along the edges of the tartlets, being careful not to cut all the way through. Using a fork, liberally prick the inside of each tartlet, leaving the border untouched. Brush the borders with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until tartlets are golden and puffed, 18 to 22 minutes.
- Gently press down on the center of the pastry sheet to flatten it, using a knife to rescore the edges of the borders if necessary. Let shells cool to room temperature before using, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Finally, when ready to assemble the tarts, remove the pastry cream from the fridge. Using a hand mixer, whip the cream into soft peaks. Stir a half cup of whipped cream into the pastry cream to loosen, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Fill each of the pastry shells with a dollop of pastry cream. Arrange the mango slices on top of the pastry cream in a pretty pattern, then top each tart with a scattering of lime zest. Serve immediately for maximum crispness.