Mango sticky rice

It’s been a while, but I am back!

Six and a half months of travelling are now sadly over, and it’s back to reality in the UK.

I’m not quite ready to forget my exotic adventures though, and so I have a super summery recipe from my time in Asia to share with you.

As I mentioned in my previous post, while I was in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, I took part in an all day cooking course at an organic farm.

(This photo is skinny me – I’ve come home a good stone heavier and now am on a serious diet and exercise kick to lose it again!)

After a starter of coconut soup with shrimps, delectable mains of sweet and sour stir fry and a green chicken curry, plus pad Thai to take home, we set to making a traditional Thai dessert – perhaps the most well known of all – mango sticky rice.

You can find it on the dessert menu of any restaurant in Thailand, and it’s as simple as it sounds, just fresh mango with coconut sticky rice.

I don’t actually like sticky rice, it’s far too chewy and dense, but when the texture is loosened a little by the coconut milk, sweetened with palm sugar balanced with a pinch of salt, and paired with the mango, it’s sort of ok.

What I like most about it though is the presentation. You can do it how ever you like, but with a little natural blue colouring in the rice, sesame seeds scattered on top and a flower to decorate, I was more than pleased with how mine turned out.

The recipe below is from the cookbook I got to take home, and if you happen to be in Chiang Mai I would highly recommend the school I went to, which was Thai Farm Cookery School.

Mango Sticky Rice

  • ¬†1 cup steamed sticky rice (there are some good instructions for cooking here)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut milk
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp palm or brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp roasted mung beans
  • 1 pandan leaf (this might be tricky to get outside of Asia, so you could substitute with a vanilla pod)

Put the coconut milk and pandan leaf or vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from the heat, take the leaf out, and add the sugar and salt to taste.

Transfer to a bowl and add the steamed sticky rice, mix well. You can add some food colouring if you like, we had a blue flower for ours, but it isn’t essential.

Put the rice on a plate and sprinkle with the mung beans. Add the sliced mango and arrange to look pretty, using flower or leaf garnishes if you have them.

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Tropical desert island cake

Sometimes I have an idea for a cake that in my head is completely and utterly amazing, but I don’t quite have the skills to turn my vision into reality and I’m left feeling a little deflated.

Luckily, this cake was one of the rare occasions when the finished bake turned out EXACTLY as I had imagined, and I was very pleased indeed!

It was made for my first Clandestine Cake Club of the year, which took place at the gorgeous St Michael’s Hotel in Falmouth. The theme was ‘ship shape’, and my thought process was basically ships – sea – shells – island = tropical dessert island cake.

I knew what I wanted it to look like before I had decided what flavour it was going to be, but it had to be tropical in both taste and appearance, and a nautical cake has to include some form of rum…

So, I decided to use a Dan Lepard rum-soaked coconut sponge recipe, which I’d previously used for a coconut and chocolate cake,¬†paired with a white chocolate mousse filling and buttercream icing both flavoured with a homemade mango and lime curd.

The ‘sand’ was made by throwing all the scraps of cake leftover after levelling the layers into a food processor and blitzing into crumbs, which were both the perfect texture and colour.

Blue icing flecked with desiccated coconut for the waves and white chocolate shells with a slightly marbled yellow effect completed the desert island look, and I think it ended up being a pretty attractive cake!

I got great comments from the people who tried it cake club, and from my housemates, so I think I can safely say it was a success. The cake itself was light and managed not to be too sweet even with the mousse and buttercream, and the flavours worked really well together.

Now all I need is an excuse to make it again!

Tropical desert island cake (loosely based on Dan Lepard’s coconut cake)

  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50ml white rum
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g butter
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • juice of one lime and 2 tbsp rum to drizzle

Start by heating the coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the desiccated coconut and stir in the rum and vanilla bean paste, then leave for at least half an hour to soften the coconut (I actually left it overnight).

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then fold a third of it into the batter. Stir in half the coconut mixture, fold in another third of the flour, the remaining coconut mixture and then finally the last third of the flour.

Divide between three 7″ round baking tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 25-30 minute, or until golden and springy. Leave to cool completely, then level off the tops, keeping the offcuts for the sand. Squeeze the lime over the tops of the sponges, and then drizzle with the rum.

For filling and icing:

  • 200g (ish) mango and lime curd (I used this recipe but used less sugar)
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 100g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • blue food colouring
  • desiccated coconut to sprinkle

To make the mousse, melt the white chocolate in a small bowl and set aside to cool. Whisk the cream until soft-medium peaks form. To try and avoid the chocolate seizing when it’s added to the cream, I start by adding a spoonful of cream into the chocolate bowl to loosen it, then add that back to the cream and fold in. Add about 4 tbsp of the mango curd and give it a quick whisk – not too much or it will start to thin. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, then divide into two to sandwich the sponge layers, and put the whole cake back in the fridge to stop the mousse spilling out the sides.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter to soften then sift in half the icing sugar and beat until well combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat again, then finally add the mango curd – I think I used about 4 tbsp again, but you’ll need to use your judgement of the consistency of the buttercream – too much curd and it will be too runny to ice with.

Spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake to crumb coat, then chill for half an hour. Spread about 3/4 of the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides so there’s a good layer of icing all over. Use a cocktail stick to draw out the pattern of the waves all around the sides of the cake.

Throw the cake offcuts you saved into the food processor and blitz to make crumbs, then gently press these into the icing on top of the cake and down the sides as far as the top of the waves. Add a little blue food colouring (I used Sugarflair gel in Ice Blue) to the remaining icing and beat until fully mixed in, then use this to spread or pipe onto bottom half of the cake to fill in the waves. Finish by sprinkling a little desiccated coconut on top of each wave to look like the foam.

Finally, decorate the top of the cake with shell-shaped chocolates – I made my own using a cheap mould from Hobbycraft, but you could definitely use some of the Guylian-style praline filled chocolates if you want.

And there you have it, a tropical desert island cake, that tastes as good as it looks!