This month, the four Velveteers (Alessio, Asha, Pamela and I) set ourselves a task which I thought would be easier than the previous one. We had to come up with something sweet using 2 different types of nuts and a fruit (fresh, dry or both) of our choice.
However, I’ve been so busy this month that this slipped my mind till last week. Given that it’s been so hot here this summer, the last thing I wanted to do was spend some more time sweating it out in the kitchen. The only saving grace about the Indian summer is the sheer abundance of absolutely delicious golden mangoes. We have some of the best mangoes in the world and I’m not talking about the over-rated Alphonso variety.
I could live on them and as far as I’m concerned, if you haven’t eaten an Asian mango then you haven’t eaten a good mango at all!
My husband is of the opinion that a mango is best eaten as fruit and I agree with him. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to make the most of the mango season and enjoy mangoes in as many ways as one can!
So I decided to use mangoes as my fruit for this challenge. As for the nuts, I chose to use cashewnuts which are grown right here in Goa and some almonds. Now all I needed was an idea or a recipe to make something with them.
I wanted to make something that was easy to put together, cool and light and just the right dessert for summer and I wanted to have an Indian flavour to it. After much thought I decided upon a mango fool with nut meringue.
One other good thing about this dessert is that it can be made ahead of serving.
I really have no idea why something as divine as this is called a fool, though I understand it was originally spelt as “foole” and goes back to 16th century Britain in origin. It seems the original fooles were made mostly with gooseberries.
A fool is made with puréed fruit, whipped cream, sugar and some flavouring and chilled before serving. I gave my fool an Indian twist by not just using mangoes, but also adding some cardamom and chai masala to it.
You might need to increase the amount of sugar in the recipe if your mangoes aren’t sweet and reduce the sugar if using sweetened mango pulp.
Serve the above mango fool with these chocolate chip and nut meringue cookies. Perhaps some of you might be wondering what’s Indian about meringues! This source tells me Tuticorin (a port town in the south Indian state of Tamilnadu) has its own version of meringues made with egg whites and cashewnuts.
I’ve never been to Tuticorin (a.k.a Thoothukudi) but I have memories of eating the lightest most melt in the mouth meringues with the crunch of cashewnuts in every bite. I must have been about 14 or 15 and my maternal grandmother and I had gone to visit her younger sister. My uncle, who isn’t all that much older than me, brought home this confection and I almost ate all of it by myself!
I loved them so much I insisted he find out what was in it, so he went back to the bakery and got me the recipe. It was only then that I discovered egg whites could create this kind of magic. Of course, it was many, many years later that I made my first batch of meringue cookies for my daughter who loves them.
Those confections were the inspiration behind these meringues of mine. While they didn’t quite match the ones in my memory, they came pretty close. The texture was just right with that melt-in-the-mouth quality but the next time I shall make these meringues with only cashewnuts ( and more of it), just for old time’s sake.
This version of mine has the “two kinds of nuts” requirement and some chocolate chips for good measure.
Making meringues is quite easy to do, just that some precautions need to be taken to get them right.