Summertime is fruit eating season, and there’s nothing more summery and delicious than a ripe, juicy mango. The sweet and supple flesh, the heady flowery fragrance- to me a good mango tastes like pure slices of heaven encased in a fiery-red skin.
But a good mango is as elusive as a shimmery mirage, and finding one around here can be as frustrating and useless as trying to catch a fistful of bright sunshine. I’ve been spoiled by too many long afternoons spent on my grandmother’s terrace in Hyderabad with sticky lips and orange nectar dripping down my forearms to be satisfied with stringy fibrous things they sell at the fruit stands at 14th street, those sad fruits that begin to rot before they’ve ever even ripened.
I had all but given up hope on ever capturing that sweet intoxicating flavor on this side of the Atlantic, but my mother has finally come back home and with her return I’ve regained access to some of the best Asian markets in New Jersey, the motherland. Last time I went to visit she sent me home with a ripe bagful and I’ve been feasting ever since!
A ripe mango doesn’t need anything to make it better, and the best way to eat it is raw- to showcase this jewel of a fruit at its very best, I baked off this crispy phyllo shell and topped it with a tangy sweet cream. The lime zest plays off the sweetness of the mango and heightens the flavor to dangerous levels of knee-weakening deliciousness. Make sure you are sitting down to eat this one!
1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced thin
6 sheets phyllo dough
¼ c melted butter
¼ c sugar or honey
2. Carefully unroll the phyllo dough and immediately cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap and the damp towel. Phyllo sheets are incredibly thin and will start to crack if you let them get dry, so be sure to replace the towel each time you remove a sheet.
3. Put the first sheet of phyllo down on the baking tray and gently brush it with a thin layer of melted butter. Sprinkle a fine dusting of sugar over the pastry, then place another sheet on top.
4. Repeat the butter/sugar process until you have five or six sheets- brush the top layer with butter but don’t sprinkle it with sugar. I folded the edges in to give it a finished look, but you also can bake as is.
5. Bake the tart shell at 350° F for 12-18 minutes, until the pastry has turned a deep golden brown color. During the baking process, the butter between layers will crisp the crust and the evaporating liquid in it will cause the pastry to rise like a quick puff dough.
6. While the pastry cools, whisk together the cream cheese, yogurt, lime juice and zest, sugar to taste, and a pinch of salt. You can experiment with strained Greek yogurt, sour cream, goat cheese, or anything else you think might taste good with the fresh fruit.
7. When the pastry is completely cool, spoon the cream mixture evenly over the crust, then placed the sliced mango on top. Finish with a dusting of lime zest.
The combination of crunchy pastry, tangy sweet cream and fresh fruit at its peak is a wonder of taste and texture, and this tart is a great quick dessert that will work well with any type of ripe fruit or berry, so get creative and enjoy!