LAST week, you’ll remember, we made a sweet little edible vegetable garden, and this seems to have been very popular.
Today, entirely by chance, we’re at it again. It just came up in my list of ‘things to do’, and seemed seasonally appropriate. This recipe is very much a “trompe l’oeil” dish – your brain suggests you’re about to eat something familiar, yet your palate begs to differ.
We’re making dippy eggs and soldiers, but using a smooth, clean-flavoured coconut pannacotta as the soft-boiled egg, with the yolk effect provided by a sweet mango jelly.
I decided to make the soldiers from a rich coconut sponge cake, toasted golden brown, and then at the last minute, decided to make a little fake Marmite using sugar and spices, which I thought would work well with the tropical flavours of the rest of the dish.
It’s not essential, but it looks brilliant, and tastes nice with the toasted cake and clean, sharp, tangy pannacotta.
Served up at the end of a meal, this will certainly attract some attention, but it’s important that it tastes every bit as good as it looks.
Coconut is one of my favourite ingredients, whether it’s lending its seductive, unique flavour to a creamy curry sauce for seafood, adding to the crunch of a spicy batter around a deep-fried tiger prawn, or marrying up with all manner of dessert ingredients like strawberries and chocolate.
Endlessly versatile, you can use it in rich, deep curried lamb or venison dishes, where it adds a captivating layer of extra sweet-savoury flavour, or toast it and roll scoops of ice-cream in it for a textural treat.
It’s something I don’t use often, and regret doing so each time I taste it, because it really is delicious – a hard-to-pinpoint flavour, fresh and yet creamy, delicate yet forceful, that immediately puts me in mind of hot weather, the tang of sea salt in the air, and the taste of fresh, sun-warmed tropical fruit.
The latter seems to have a great affinity with coconut, which is perhaps unsurprising if we stick to the adage that ‘what grows together goes together’.
Coconut’s unmistakable flavour goes brilliantly with pineapple, mango, papaya, banana and passionfruit, and while it’s nice with some of our native berries, I think it does its best work with the fruit grown around the equator.
Hence today’s selection of mango to accompany the pannacotta – the scented piquancy of the mango is perfectly matched with the cool, creamy custard, especially when eaten with a bite of warm, biscuit-y coconut cake.
This recipe is incredibly easy to make, despite how it looks, and will entertain a willing junior participant for a couple of hours.
Endless amusement for all and a brilliant dessert to boot. Have fun with it! Aprons on!