14 May 2009

Mango Mille Crepe

Gâteau de Crêpes aux Mangues
Mango Mille Crepe (with title)
Whenever I go on a shopping trip and my brother is around (especially when we were in the States), we have a gag where if the shop has unexpectedly expensive stuff, I'd reenact the taunt of the shopkeeper in "Pretty Woman." "It's very expensive." "We have nothing for you here." Of course, I don't take it as personally as Vivian did (not to mention no shopkeeper would be that rude).

I would make a terrible socialite. Not because I consider myself antisocial, but I just don't care about the trappings of status. And even worse, I don't particularly care for being part of a group that makes me jump through hoops just to feel worthy of them (employment excepted, heh). And all those secret conversations that these exclusive groups revel in... They can't be that important. Being a man has its perks here: no-one labels you a bitch/weirdo for not caring. You're just being the strong silent type. However, instead of yapping on and on about hundred-dollar handbags, you're now forced to keep up with impressive cars or something. Shrug. (Sorry, Marc.)
Mango Mille Crepe (sliced)
I'm not being a snob either by saying, "Oh, my concerns are better than yours." The important difference is that when I do my own thing, everyone else is welcome (the more, the many-er, as they say). I don't like putting others down or turning people away just to inflate my self-worth. I don't like speaking in code and I don't find anything interesting about rubbing noses with famous people (except for maybe, like, five of them, none of them Paris Hilton). And I don't necessarily want fancy things, to be in all the hot spots (and to think, when I was in medical school, this was freaking STARBUCKS, ugh), or to eat the finest dishes. Besides, when it's your hands making just honestly good dishes, you're pretty much all set.

Why did I suddenly talk about this? I've wanted to make this mille crepe since I had one at a patisserie on Manhattan's Park Avenue (not saying the name yet-- saving it for the travel story!) with Noah and Genie. Of course, since it was an immaculately white place in the middle of one of New York's swankiest neighborhoods, the clientele was appropriately hoity-toity. And of course the three of us were talking about totally inappropriate topics! I joked that they might throw us out. At least now that I can make my own, we can talk about all the silly stuff we want without fear of ejection.

Anyway, I wanted to put a Filipino spin on this French-by-way-of-Japan cake. Jen says I keep talking about our superior mangoes but never feature them, so here they are! (And right when she's on break too, oh well.) I didn't have a good estimate as to how many crepes would make how tall a cake at the time, but I managed an inch on about 7 crepes. So I advise in the recipe to double the batter.

Mango Mille Crepe
Crepes: double the recipe here.
You can leave the frilly, lacy edges of the crepes intact, but I wanted a neater finish, so I took a 6-inch cake ring and cut circles out of the crepes (and ate the scraps with condensed milk).

Pastry cream

  • 250g (1 cup) whole milk

  • 1/2 vanilla bean

  • pinch salt

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 57g (1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon) sugar

  • 1 large egg (or 2 large egg yolks)

  • 27g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter

Split the vanilla bean, scrape it, and place the pod and the caviar in a heavy saucepan with the milk and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to just under the boil, stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, cornstarch, and sugar together until it forms a paste. Drizzle about a third of the milk in slowly, whisking the egg madly as you do, then pour it back into the milk. Continue whisking over medium heat until the small bubbles disappear and it is the consistency of lightly whipped cream, about a minute or so. Sieve into a clean bowl. When the cream is about 60°C (140°F), whisk in the butter bit by bit until smooth. Place a slit piece of cling film flush against the surface and cool the cream completely.

Slice 2 large mangoes into 2 cheeks each, then slice each cheek into 2-3mm (1/8-inch) thick slices.

Using the cake ring as a guide if you wish, place a round of crepe at the bottom and using a pastry brush, brush it with a thin layer of pastry cream. Repeat for the remaining crepes; I interrupted this once in the halfway through the process to add a single layer of mangoes over the pastry cream. Finish it with one last layer of pastry cream, then top with the mangoes.

As you can see, I tried to torch the top, but of course the high water content of the mangoes didn't allow me to brulée any sugar that I placed on top of it (I could have frozen it, but that would have compromised the rest of the cake). It just oozed mango juice when I did this for a prolonged period. Probably not worth it.

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