Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crazy mango bars

I love mangoes. I love them fresh, just eaten out of hand, the juice running down my wrist. I'll happily eat them dried and chewy, and I also like them in smoothie, juice, and sorbet form. I find their rainbow skin utterly beautiful, and I enjoy how cool and heavy they feel in my palm. I even like saying the word "mango."

So I was very pleased when a couple of plump mangoes arrived in our produce box last week.

"Mangoes!" I cried to the other hungry dog, who was watching me unpack the box. "Mangoes!" I shouted a little louder, since she's losing her hearing.

She sniffed one appreciatively. That dog knows a good mango when she sees one.

Although I do buy mangoes here in San Francisco, I most often eat them when we go to Hawaii.  You know how I love Hawaii, right? Like, really love it. Here's the short list of things I love most in this world:

1. The husband and the other hungry dog (for appearances, let's just say they are tied for first)

2. My mother, sister, her husband, Mischievous Pug and Scrappy

3. Hawaii

No doubt this deep love of Hawaii, and particularly Kauai, has to do with my adoration of mangoes; anything I associate with that gorgeous place is high on my list.

Normally I would just wait for the fruit to ripen, peel it, and eat it standing over the sink. I admit to being a bit uncouth on occasion. But this time, I felt the urge to do something different.

What to do? I wondered. Mango cake? Mango muffins? 

Mango bars?

Yes, readers, strangely, that is what I decided upon, to the husband's surprise. I found a recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that looked good. Actually, the recipe was for coconut lime bars, but one of the variations was mango bars. While some of you might be cuckoo for coconut, the Hungry Dog doesn't roll that way. Mango bars it was, with lemon instead of lime, because who has limes sitting around?

Mango bars are exactly like lemon bars: you make a short pastry crust, bake it, cover it in a fruity custard layer and bake it again until it's just set. For the mango component, you just use mango puree, which is made as follows: peel and slice some mangoes, and puree them in a blender. Bittman also suggests you strain the puree, a step I skipped. It didn't seem to make a difference in the final product.

The mango bars emerged dark golden brown and lacy on the edges. I let them cool completely before dusting them with powdered sugar, my own addition, because they seemed to need a final touch. Then I cut them into squares and served one to the husband.

"It's crazy that you made mango bars," he said dubiously, which is his way of saying, "I'm not sure I'm going to like these."

Ultimately, the mango bars were fine but not a bestseller. They were a bit too sweet and lacked contrasting texture. I think if you enjoy coconut, sprinkling some over the top would be good. Me, if I made them again, I would make a crumbly brown sugar topping with macadamia nuts.

They sure looked pretty though.

What about you all? What do you do with mangoes?


  1. I know this is so trendy-ten-years-ago, but salsa! Mango+chili peppers = happiness. It's best with something outrageous like lobster taquito, duck flautas, or shrimp fajitas. I also like mango in ceviche. And margaritas.

    I REALLY need to find a good Mexican restaurant in Paris!

  2. These look gorgeously yummy! I'm cuckoo for coconut and mangoes. I have to limit my mango intake because sadly, they don't like me as much as I like them. I adore them in smoothies and think a scoop of mango ice cream side by side with a scoop of coconut ice cream is absolute heaven.

  3. Oooh. I like the sound of macadamia nuts with them. Sorry they weren't stellar, esp. since you love that sweet mango so much. Your description was awesome. : )

  4. Oh dear. Those looks amazing. What do I do with mangoes? Well, and you'll probably hurt me, but I usually wait too long and let them over ripen to the point of inedibility... it's very sad.

  5. brace yourself--this gal has never tasted fresh mango. i've really been missing out, yeah? these bars look really gooey and delicious, and i think coconut AND brown sugar AND macadamia nuts all belong on top. :)

  6. Wow, mango bars! How great are these delectable treats. I got to try a batch of these, thanks.

  7. I've been searching for a good baking recipe using mangos and will definitely try these bars!

  8. HD, I also love Hawaii and Kauai is my favorite. I could live there. I love the smell of the place when you walk off the plane.
    Mango bars did sound promising. Kudos for trying. What do I do with mangos? I have been know to puree them with a little sugar (if needed) and serve them as a sauce for pound cake with vanilla ice cream. Sometimes pureed, served opposite raspberry puree with a ice cream (do you see a pattern forming) and mint leaves.

  9. Mangoes! They're probably the thing I miss most about Hawaii after my nephew/nieces and the beach. The best tasting mangoes are the ones you get from your neighbor in Hawaii because they're tree ripened and free! I usually make chutney or a salad, but probably my favorite way to cook mangoes (if I had to cook them and not eat them fresh) is by making mango noodles, Burmese style. Again, it's the sweet and savory thing (with the soy) that's all umami.

  10. Mangoes an underappreciated fruit. growing-up in South Florida, Mangoes were abundant. In fact, I could remember 10 mangoes for $1 fresh from the tree. Although, the mango bars did not quite live up to the standard that you were hoping for, I tip my hat to you for using the mangoes so creatively. Nice!!!

  11. I usually just peel and eat 'em. Although, I also have tossed segments of them with nice crisp greens, then squirted lime juice all over it and drizzled on a little olive oil. Add some torn mint and basil leaves, and it makes a nice, refreshing salad.

  12. Oh I do! I do! *jumping up and down waving hand in air* - have limes hanging around that is. Mangoes (happily in season now) are one of my absolute favourite fruits. I'm guessing I'd be a fan of Hawaii too then :) Love the sound of these mango bars, maybe lime juice would cut the sweetness more? I usually just eat mangoes straight but they sometimes end up in salads or salsa or something frozen, and just recently I made little tarts.

  13. I love all of these ideas--mango salsa (I love it too, Camille!), mango ice cream, mango puree over ice cream (a classic), mango noodles sound incredible--trying to think if I've had those at Burma Superstar--mango salads and mango many wonderful uses for my favorite fruit! And Shaz, you might be right--the lime might have done a better job of cutting the sweetness.

  14. Luckily, we can get them all the time in Florida. I've done a lobster/mango appetizer- the recipe was in Gourmet ages ago AND last year I made a mango puree and served it with a panna cotta. Everyone loved it.

    Hawaii is a favorite with me too, went there on my honeymoon and have been back several times. Kauai is lovely but we usually stay on Maui because there is a dive group there we like a lot. And I adore staying at the Halekulani on Oahu- just to eat.

  15. I love mangos as well. I love to dice them up in a salad!

  16. Mangoes are made for eating over the sink, including a go at what remains on the seed. I got one in my box and I'm waiting for it to ripen!

  17. I have a pretty mean mango salsa, come to think of it, I should post that recipe!

  18. This post is so timely b/c on my counter sits a mango that desperately needs to be eaten. Sadly, like Bob, I tend to let mangoes ripen into oblivion. Maybe today I'll try the Bittman bars although a smoothie sounds good (and quick). We either make mango salsa to go with mustard-seed encrusted chicken OR Chinese milk pudding with chunks o' mango...

  19. I'm with the egg to the apples, mango salsa is the only thing I've ever made with mangos... I mostly eat them plain. But topping a buttery bar does sound delicious

  20. Barbara: I love Maui too! Actually the weather there is better than Kauai--a lot less rain.

    figtree: definitely a good idea!

    cee: glad to know I am not the only one getting mango juice on my shirt while leaning over the sink... :)

    egg to the apples: I'll be looking for that post!

    Jary: will you email me that chicken recipe? Sounds great.

    foodhoe: mango salsa is definitely one of my faves and it goes with just about everything!

  21. OH WOW! This looks so good - mangoes are a favorite of mine! I love making mango shakes - mango, frozen vanilla yogurt, and some skim milk.

  22. I love all of these big ideas of mango salsa.