If I can make something tropical I will do it. If I can cook something great without picking up a thing outside what I have in the kitchen already, I will verily do it. And, when the kitchen contains fruit, I am a happy sun-cheeked girl, and making sweets that are all colours of the rainbow and – although pining just a bit for the promised million kinds of fruits that are available all the time in Vietnam ^^;;;;; – making my kind of worship to the varieties at my disposal here in Quebec, which is still a riotous bounty, truth told.
Any kind of upside down cake is good (yes even, and maybe especially the kind with those little canned cherries) and almost any kind of gingerbread cake is good. Anything with tropical fruit on it is irresistible, so how could I stop myself from jamsing all these properties together into one moist-tastic clove-kissed flipped-over gemdisplay? Ya, I couldn’t, and the roommates benefitted. Vegans benefit too, because I bet you could probably omit that egg, and I know that replacing the butter with Earth Balance works fine ’cause I did that – partly out of necessity and partly because I rather like using high quality solid alterna-fats in certain desserts instead of dairy. Coconut oil would have been epic!!
Tropical Upside Down Gingerbread Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe in Ready for Dessert.
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 2 kiwis, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 cup of pineapple slices (you guessed it, 1/2 thick)
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- two pinches of salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup of room temperature milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the butter for the fruit topping in a 9 inch round cake pan and set it directly on a burner. Melt the butter over low heat, then stir in the brown sugar. Remove from the burner and let cool while you prep the fruit.
3. Evenly distribute the fruit over the brown sugar/butter mixture, taking care to place things artfully in overlapping circles.
4. Make the gingerbread cake: whisk the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3-5 minutes (until it is light in texture and color).
6. Beat in the molasses, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
7. Mix in half of the dry ingredients from the bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the rest of the dry mix until just incorporated.
8. Distribute the cake batter over the fruit, evening it out with a spatula.
9. Bake the cake for about 45-55 minutes (be careful not to let the top burn). Test for doneness by inserting a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake (if it comes out clean, it’s done).
10. Let the cake cool slightly before running a knife along the edges and inverting it onto a plate.
11. Serve warm, with homemade whipped cream.
I like apple crumble okay, and with pecans involved I’m SO there, but really – in the summer anyway – my heart belongs exclusively to only one variety. You could give me mango crumble every day in the warm months and I’d be happy as a bug with a mouthful of crispy coconut-laced nugget chunks. (strawberry-plum is a close second, but another story). One day I’ll write down my exact recipe for this mango thing, I promise, but for now, the guidelines are…
Mango Crisp (a rough guideline)
Take 2 fat mangoes and diced them up. Toss them with 2-3 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, the juice of 1 lime, and if you have fresh ginger lying around, you could add a little grate of that, too. You want it to be just a touch sweet, super mango-y, and tart from the lime juice. Sploosh that in a baking dish and figure out the dry goods. What I do is take about 1 cup of oats, 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder – an indian seasoning, and optional), a good pinch of salt, and enough flour until it is wet enough to hold it’s shape firm when you squeeze it, but still crumbly enough to be, well, a crumble by definition. Sprinkle over the fruit making sure there are big and little chunks, and bake in a relatively warm oven – 375 F maybe, for about 30-40 minutes until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling stickily at you. Serve warm with ice cream, obviously! Vanilla, or coconut, or green tea, or honey, or fudge ripple or whatever.
Then again, if your fruit collection contains avocados and you have some dietary restrictions to consider, a raw lime pie might be the way to go. It is way way WAY easier to make than you might think, with only one heavy machinery requirement, and not-very-heavy one at that, since I can attest to a stick/immersion blender’s ability to replace something more serious like a blender. Even if you don’t have a food processor for the nuts, well….. rolling pin and sturdy plastic bag them! Excellent stress relief, actually.
Raw Lime Avocado Tart w/Blueberry Swirl
adapted, more or less, from the Crudessence recipe
- 1 cup macadamia nuts (I used almonds)
- 1 1/4 cups coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup dates
- 2 tbsp water (or more, as needed to make a pliable but stiff dough)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
First grind the nuts, either in a food processor or by putting them in a bag and smashing them with a rolling pin. Then, process the dates – either with machinery or with your fingers. If the dates are hard, you can soak them in warm water for 30 minutes (discard the water afterwards). Moosh the nuts and dates together with the rest of the ingredients until it’s a uniform paste, and then press into the bottom of a greased 9″ pan. It helps to use a tool like a metal measuring cup or a mug to press the mix firmly into the corners! Shape a pretty crust around the edge with your fingers and put in the freezer to set.
- 300 grams ripe avocado flesh (about 3 medium avocats)
- 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 cup coconut butter OR 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked in warm water for an hour and then drained.
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Blend all the ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender until very, very smooth and creamy. Spread into the pie crust and smooth the top.
- 1 cup aromatic juicy blueberries
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
Blend together until smooth (you can strain it at this point if you want a perfectly smooth sauce, or leave the pretty purple skins in). Pour the sauce in a circular swirl on the top of the lime cream, then drag a toothpick or a knife through the lines to form a spiderweb pattern.
Chill the pie for at least 2 hours, then slice and eat! It might be cheating to suggest whipped cream, but I’d do it! ★ ★
Finally, if you’re faced with a surplus of luscious manic-coloured summerfruits, and not feeing the need to break out measuring tools, you could always just cut them all up into wee pieces and have a juicy salad, tossed with a bit of citrus and golden syrup. It’s how I was raised, and sometimes, simplicity counts.