16 July 2007
Sometimes, the best things happen by coincidence, or in this case leftovers. Ok, actually, it was leftovers, twice-over. I should be a little sheepish about saying that but, really, this dessert is so good, you should be happy I'm sharing it with you at all. I could just run away and hide in the closet and eat it all and never tell you about it, but I'm letting you in on the recipe (leftovers and all).
I made some Thai food the other night and had leftover coconut milk and limes. I bought key limes because I'll admit I don't really like limes much, they can be terribly bitter and astrigent. However, limes also have a unique flavor that marries perfectly with certain dishes, like mojitos and Thai food and coconut, in those cases I choose key limes because they are sweeter and fleshier. Of course, key limes also bring to mind the eponymous pie, filled with a key lime custard.
I had already combined the leftover coconut milk with whipped cream as a sweet topping for cherries, but then I had leftover coconut cream. So, I'm standing at the fridge, trying to figure out what to do with the already reincarnated coconut, the key limes, thinking coconut, key lime pudding, maybe some fruit, mangos, bingo! That's how I came up with the idea for these parfaits, tall layered glasses of coconut cream, lime pudding, and mango.
And even though these look impressive and taste even more so, all I had to do was make the pudding and layer everything in glasses, easy. The product of leftovers never tasted so good, and the key lime pudding is terrific on its own. The only thing I would add would be if you want a little crunch in there, some toasted chopped cashews or sesame brittle might be nice. Eitherway, these are cool, creamy, fruity, tart, sweet and terrifically redolent of the tropics, the perfect thing for summer. You can even come out of the closet and eat them on your porch, provided you've made enough to share.
Ooh, and think you need fancy glasses to serve these in? Think again, I used plastic Solo cups, yeah, I'm admitting that too.
These cool, creamy parfaits taste of the tropics. The key lime pudding is fabulous on its own, but paired with coconut whipped cream, mangos, and a hint of rum, it's even better.
coconut whipped cream:
1 can coconut milk, refrigerated*
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbl powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
key lime pudding:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbl cornstarch
2 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice*
1 tbl butter
1 large mango
1 tbl coconut rum, optional
toasted cashews, crystalized ginger, sesame brittle or toasted coconut
1. For the lime pudding: Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until very warm but not boiling. Beat the egg together in a small bowl, then add a little bit of the warm milk mixture to the egg and stir to combine. Add the egg to the saucepan with the milk and return the pan to the heat. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (be careful not to curdle it). Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and butter. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. For the coconut whipped cream: Open the can of coconut milk and scrape off the top layer of solidified coconut cream. Place in a bowl with the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Whip the mixture until it holds stiff peaks. You can fold in a few more tablespoons of coconut milk if you'd like. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. For the mango: With a vegetable peeler, peel the mango, then continue with the peeler, shaving thin strips of mango into a bowl, working around the center pit. If the mango seems fibrous you can also use a knife and finely dice the mago, whatever works for you. Add the rum to the mango and stir to combine.
4. To assemble: Place some of the mango in the bottom of four glasses. Add some of the lime pudding, then some of the coconut cream. Sprinkle over any of the optional additions like toasted chopped nuts. Repeat the layers. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Substitute purchased lime curd (available next to the jams in most groceries) for the lime pudding. Then all you have to do is whip the cream, slice the mangos, and layer everything in glasses!
*When you refrigerate coconut milk, the thick coconut cream will solidify on top. I like to scrape this off and use it in sweet applications (you can even whip it like cream), and use the remaining coconut milk for savory uses like curry. However, you can also just fold regular coconut milk into already whipped cream. Also, if fresh key limes are unavailable, substitute bottled key lime juice or 1/4 cup regular lime juice.