This time two years ago I had just started my honeymoon adventure in Vietnam and my love affair with mangos began.
I’ve blogged previously about how much I love fruit and how much I eat daily, but prior to my honeymoon, mangos really didn’t feature that often. I think this in part is because they are so rarely ripe and in that perfect juicy state to be eaten, but they also appear on paper to be a little bit harder work to prepare than your humble apple or strawberry.
Will and I spent just over three weeks travelling from an Island called Phu Quoc which is a tiny Island off the south coast, all the way up to Halong Bay at the top of Vietnam going out to sea on a beautiful junk boat.
It really was an unforgettable few weeks exploring the country, experiencing the culture and enjoying the local cuisines.
One of our stops on our journey up the coast was at a wonderful place called Six Senses Nigh Van Bay . You’re whisked off by speed boat to what feels like a private island and overlooking the sparkling East Vietnam Sea. They even operate on a different time zone so that you can enjoy more hours of sunshine!
You are met by your butler and driven to your private hut by golf cart. I shouldn’t really describe it as a hut when just one of its rooms is bigger than my whole flat. It really was luxury!
One of my favourite times of day was the breakfast which involved endless amounts of freshly prepared pastries and cooked to order eggs and omelettes. There was so much beautiful fruit laid out along with bottles of homemade smoothies, bowls over flowing with bircher museli while you dined overlooking the stunning blue sea. And if you fancied a glass or two of champagne, that was ready chilling for you too.
The fruit that really stood out though was the mangos.
There were bowls of brightly coloured juicy mango flesh, richer in flavour than I had ever tasted before. If I could have got away with just picking the whole bowl up and eating straight from it I would have done.
Our butler, a lovely chap called Nam asked us how we were enjoying our stay and I told him just how much I loved the mangos. Later that day whilst I was sunning by our private infinity pool (as you do), he showed up with a bag on mangos for me! And continued to do this each day for the rest of our stay. Now that’s service!
From then on, I have forever been obsessed with mangos.
Whilst the mangos that arrive in the UK will never quite live up to those in Vietnam, when you do get them at the right time and they are perfectly ripe, they really are the most divine fruit to enjoy in the sunshine.
With that in mind, I decided to make a dessert that would make the mango the star of the show but would compliment a very British dessert.
I had lots of egg whites left over and thought it was about time I really mastered making meringues. This married with some spare whipping cream meant that really there was only one dessert on the horizon.. Eton Mess… with a twist!
By adding the mangos you get a lovely juicy summery sweetness, and the passion fruit is a beautiful sharp accompaniment (much like raspberries) to the sweet cream and chewy gooey meringues. There is just a hint of Elderflower through the cream which gives an interesting different flavour.
It really is a pretty dessert with bright yellow mangos and dark passion fruit pulp providing the sunshine against the fluffy whipped cream, that you just have to enjoy it sat in the sunshine.
And luckily, this week looks like it’s finally hotting up, so take a little bit of time out and whip up this fabulous Eton Mess… where East meets West.
For the Eton Mess:
1 ripe mango
300ml whipping cream thickened
1 tbs icing sugar
Pulp of 4 passion fruits
2 tbs elderflower cordial
For the Meringues:
2 large egg whites
110g of caster sugar (I used golden as it was all I had in the cupboard)
For the Meringues:
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Place the egg whites in a large bowl and using an electric hand whisk or Kitchen Aid mixer, whisk on a low speed. Continue for about 2 minutes, until the whites are foamy, then switch the speed to medium and carry on whisking for 1 more minute. Now turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites reach stiff-peak stage.
Next, whisk the sugar in on a fast speed, a little at a time (about a dessertspoon), until you have a stiff glossy mixture. It is important that you don’t just add all the sugar in one go.
Spoon heaped dessertspoons of the mixture on to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
Space the two meringue nests with enough room between them as they will spread a little on baking.
Don’t worry too much about making them look pretty as you’ll be breaking them up later anyway.
Pop them on the centre shelf of the oven, immediately reduce the heat to 140°C and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out in the warmth of the oven until it is completely cold (this will take about 4 hours).
When cold, take the meringues out the oven and place in an airtight container ready for later when you create your dessert. You can freeze the meringues at this point if you are making them well ahead or having made a bigger batch.
For the Eton Mess:
Chop the mango up into small chunks keeping half to one side and the other half to go into a blender to puree till smooth.
Beat the cream until slightly thickened, then add in your icing sugar and elderflower and beat until the cream is thick. Keep an eye on it though as it can go from a lovely thickness to slightly overdone quite quickly.
Crush up your meringues into chunks, don’t be too precious. Fold the meringue chunks into your cream. Careful not to mash up the meringues because you still want that gooey meringue texture to shine through your cream.
Layer some of the mango puree in the bottom of your tumbler, followed by the cream and meringue mixture, followed by mango slices then scatter half of your pulp and repeat.
Serve immediately to ensure your meringues don’t become soggy.
Then wish you’d made enough for four, even though there is only two of you!