The New Flavor of Fall
If you haven’t worked in marketing, you may not be able to empathize with how pressurized it can become – to have to constantly churn out new, creative (and IMO hopefully) useful content. In the culinary education world that means new recipe ideas and techniques to simplify them, giving consumers what they want and need but may not, as of yet, even be aware they do. In produce that means tips on storage, handling, and usage, as well as flavor profiles, textures, and a fruit or a vegetable’s unique quirks. If you’re like me and want content to be genuine, it’s even more difficult. Mango-infused Thanksgiving ideas are never easy to come by, but I think once again we managed to pull it off.
We at Crespo Organic Kitchen are well-known for our multi-faceted work with mangoes. We work on the commodity side as well as the kitchen side, producing useful content that resonates with our many fans and eaters from around the globe. Ideas often start out as complex, but as culinary professionals we must turn them into easily executable concepts that any skill level can tackle. Most importantly we don’t want to just lazily toss mangoes into any old recipe; we want to be thoughtful and also clear that mangoes do not work in very dish.
This year, like many before, I am letting some new fall mango ideas unravel. All are based on an updated version of our Fall Mango Pie Spice Puree and our Crespo Organic Kitchen custom pie spice blend.
Our very popular Pumpkin and Mango Spiced Cake was inspired by Pierre Thiam and his original pumpkin mango cake that celebrates both Thanksgiving and his West African roots. It was he who first inspired me to meld mangoes into the warm Thanksgiving tones and spices that you see the Crespo Organic Kitchen turning out season after season. This cake, was my first foray into mangoes and Thanksgiving (or more specifically mangoes and pie spice), which creates one of the most decadent and versatile pumpkin pie-esque purees and one of my most genius recipes to date.
I’ve been known for my pie spice ideas and recipes for some time. I tend to think the general pie spice mixtures available are bland with their one dominant cinnamon forward note. I always want more, and I think cinnamon does, too. The number of spices to choose from is incredibly vast, even from the average American spice cabinet, which admittedly mine is not. The Crespo Organic Kitchen Pie Spice blend utilizes the basics, blending them so the final result is layered, multidimensional and anything but basic. Once the spice blend was added to a basic puree, more fall magic ensued.
I love pumpkins and, for me, roasting them and then peeling them and blending them is a gift. But that’s a lot of time and work for most folks, especially during shorter days and longer nights and holidays. A fresh mango is economical and fresh, so the process of making this puree yields the same or better decadent results. This mango pie spice puree is less dense and creamier than the average pumpkin puree and with the tropical undertones tends to keep things warm but with still some tiny elements of brightness. Make no mistake the end version here is not tropical; it’s deeply warm and comforting. It feels and tastes like pumpkin pie, proving how versatile mangoes are in culinary creations.
One of the many things I have learned while developing recipes with mangoes is that they are extremely complex in flavor (aren’t we all). While most of us think “tropical,” mangoes also have bright, perfumy, honey-sweet and even slightly spicy tones, depending on the varietal and ripeness. I’ve learned that each of these notes can be coaxed out further using simple techniques used by chefs every day to pull out flavors. Cooking with fruits is, for the most part, still new territory throughout the world, and as we fuse more recipes, cultures, and techniques together, we get less cookie cutter results and more deliciousness.
The natural sugars in mangoes caramelize when cooked, something I discovered when I developed the Crespo Organic Kitchen mango caramel years back. So, cooking the mango purees, which I hadn’t done for a recipe outside the caramel, led to a richer and deeper flavor profile, representing more fall tones by adding the maple, ginger, and pie spice. This year I also throw in the option of toasting the sugar and spices, creating an even warmer, deeper end flavor. (I hear the winter will be cold, so warmer seems fitting.)
This updated version of our Fall Mango Puree truly presents endless opportunities as a convenient flavor addition to have on hand to toss into your morning smoothie or oatmeal, to glaze a chicken or pork loin with, and even feed your baby. We recommend keeping a mason jar with the puree in the fridge; it will last about 3-4 weeks.
I’ve been experimenting in the Crespo Organic Kitchen this past month with the new puree, further inspired by the vibrant foliage changes and colors happening outside in our new Blue Eye, Missouri location. I’m now ready to share the ideas/recipes born from this magical kitchen view and the amazing versatility of our beloved mango!
Crespo Mango Pumpkin Pie Spice
What started out as the medley of spices added to a pumpkin pie has now become synonymous with pumpkin pie flavor, whether there is pumpkin in the product or not. McCormick was the first spice company to bottle it back in the 1950’s. Once it made its way into the cabinets of home cooks, it ended up in everything around fall and Thanksgiving. The essence of pie spice is simple. It’s a cinnamon-forward blend of spices that includes cinnamon (surprise!), ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Like many others, I have strayed slightly from the original. Whether you use this blend or a store-bought version doesn’t matter. The recipes will all turn out tasty, and you’ll be jonesing for Thanksgiving. Toasting whole spices and then grinding them is an option I personally love. It leads to deeper, more robust, and slightly smokier flavors. This season I take that further and toast them with a little extra sugar.
I like the method of toasting sugar in the oven, which I learned from the website Serious Eats many years back. But mostly I toast my sugar in a pan on the stove top because it’s better for smaller batches, which is better for me because I’m always adding and toasting spices at the same time.
Toasting sugar basically caramelizes it without the sugar losing its structure. The end result is a deeper more caramel tasting sugar that tastes less sweet, which is really important to create multidimensional final dishes.
Makes about 1 cup of sugar spice mix
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground all spice
½ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground mace
½ cup sugar in the raw
Mix together the spices and sugar in a small bowl. Add the sugar and spice to a large metallic heavy bottom skillet on low heat. The sugar mixture should be thin across the pan. Gently and slowly let the sugar cook stirring often so that the sugar isn’t melting. The sugar mixture will begin to smell caramelized and the process can take anywhere between 6-12 minutes total. Most importantly you want to stop before the structure of the begins to change into liquid.
Mango Pie Spice Puree
So much about fall starts out with “pie spice” and all of this year’s Fall recipes start out with a pie spiced mango puree, made with the toasted sugar pie spice and flavored further with ginger and maple. This warm and creamy, slightly cooked puree is perfect for fall cakes, pies, drinks, and even glazed meats. The trick to making the mango puree is to know your desired thickness for the recipe – thick, thin or regular. The juiciness or ripeness of the mango matters, so you have to use some judgment when making purees. An average organic round mango sold at the grocery store will yield about 1 ½ cups of chopped fruit, but sizing and variety can differ and change the yield, so be sure to measure when a recipe calls for one mango.
Makes 2 ½ cups of puree
2 cups fresh ripe mango, chopped
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 tablespoon sugar/pie spice mix
¼ cup water (or cognac J)
Combine the mango, maple, ginger, sugar spice mix, and water in a blender, and blend until totally smooth, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency. Place the blended mango mixture on the stove in a medium-sized heavy bottom sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate for later use.
Mango Pie Spice White Cocoa
This is a further unraveling of my Mango Pumpkin Spiced Latte recipe which I created for the Crespo Organic Kitchen. If you like Starbucks pumpkin spiced lattes, you will also love this. It’s rich and decadent (and caffeine free) and, unlike all the Starbucks drinks, this one is not sugary sweet. It’s perfectly complex and beautiful. Warm and comforting. Use non-dairy milk and cream for a vegan version.
Makes 2 cocoa drinks
1 ½ cups of whole milk
2 tablespoons Fall Mango Puree, plus another 1 teaspoon
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces (or chips)
Pinch of salt
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of Crespo Mango Pumpkin Pie Spice
Heat the milk, 2 tablespoons mango puree, and vanilla until hot, just before boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the white chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate melts into the milk. Mix in the salt. Turn the burner to lowest setting and make your whipped cream topping. Using a whisk or hand-held emulsifier, beat the heaving whipping cream, the sugar, and 1 reserved teaspoon of the puree until soft peaks form.
To assemble the drink, pour the cocoa in a cup and top with the whipped cream and a dusting of pie spice on top.
Mango Pie Spice Blondies with White Chocolate and Mango Caramel Drizzle
This recipe has been adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Pumpkin Swirl Brownie recipe, which was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Swirl Brownie recipe. The Crespo Organic Kitchen combined the ideas and techniques of both and incorporated our Mango Pie Spice Puree and our Mango Caramel, creating a deeply satisfying fall blondie.
A blondie is basically part cake and part brownie. They are made without cocoa powder and with white chocolate. Using white chocolate creates a different texture than dark chocolate and the end result of this recipe falls somewhere between chewy and cakey. It’s rich in vanilla and the mango pie spice flavors. We make these extra decadent by drizzling melted white chocolate and our Mango Caramel over the top of them. You can opt to include chocolate chips if you like dark chocolate, like we do.
This recipe is excellent with browned butter, which adds more caramel and nutty notes to the blondies and can be made easily in a microwave. Just place the butter in a covered microwavable glass bowl and cook in intervals of 30 seconds for about 3 1/3 minutes or until the butter is an amber color and it smells nutty.
Makes 1 9-inch square dish of blondies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Mango Pie Spice
1 ½ cup sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup Mango Pie Spice Puree (thick)
¼ cup vegetable oil
8 tablespoons unsalted, browned butter,
6 ounces white chocolate chips, plus 2 ounces
½ cup cashews, toasted and chopped
½ dark chocolate chips (optional)
½ cup Salted Mango Caramel
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, pie spice and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl with an electric hand mixer until well combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the Mango Pie Spice Puree and the oil, and mix another 2 minutes.
Combine the butter and 6 ounces of white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate into the butter by stirring until all the chips are melted and smooth.
Add the sugar, egg, puree mixture to the butter and chocolate and beat for a few minutes until totally silky smooth.
Slowly mix in the flour mixture.
Remove 2 cups of the batter and add it to another bowl. Mix in the white chocolate mixture until combined. Add the nuts and chocolate chips if using.
Dollop the batter in the preprepared baking pan and spread it out evenly.
Bake for about 40 minutes until the blondies are set and a knife interested comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack.
Drizzle with remaining white chocolate melted in the microwave and mango caramel and let set for 10 minutes and then cut into squares, size of your choice.
Salted Mango Caramel
There is nothing quite like the classic sugar caramelizing while mixing with butter and cream, which creates a deep and rich, luxurious sauce like no other. It’s also fairly easy to make. It requires some practice, but once you have it down, it’s pretty foolproof. The main problems to watch for are sugar crystals or sugar clumps forming, which come from stirring too much and burning it. It also burns really easily at a certain point or moment, and there is no coming back from the taste of burnt sugar. You can also undercook it, which results in a sweet syrupy taste with zero depth. Practicing often will escort you to the Oprah “ah-ha!” moment of caramel making…that moment when you know it’s just right, and you can only get there from trial and error.
Homemade classic caramel is something that needs to be eaten soon after it’s made for optimal texture and flavor. I personally don’t store mine in the fridge because I think the texture changes once it has been refrigerated, and I don’t believe it reheats well. I store it in a jar on the counter and use it up within 48 hours of making it, which isn’t hard to do. You can store in in the fridge if you want to hold onto it longer and it should keep for a few weeks.
Makes about 1 cup
¼ heavy cream
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons Mango Pie Spice Puree
3 tablespoons salted butter, cubed and room temperature
Mix together the cream, vanilla and salt. Warm them in the microwave or on the stove; set side at room temperature.
Combine the sugar and mango purée in a medium heavy bottom saucepan and stir until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil on medium-high heat without stirring. Once the mixture comes to a boil, increase heat to high and continue to cook until the sauce begins to turn a deep caramel or amber color. In order to keep the mixture from burning you may need to swirl the pan a bit, but do not stir. Be careful not to burn the mixture and only swirl occasionally. Stirring causes the formation of sugar crystals or, in laymen’s terms, tiny, hard sugar clumps. The entire process takes about 6-8 minutes, give or take. Once the caramel is amber in color, remove the pan from the heat. Slowly and gently whisk in butter a little at a time until it’s all mixed in, smooth and shiny. Stir in the warmed cream mixture until incorporated fully.
Mango Pie Spice Diplomatico
Think White Russian, but with mangoes and pie spice and dark Venezuelan rum! This festive drink pays homage to South America while offering perfect fall flavors to celebrate with.
If you are looking for festive fall drink that is easy to whip up on the fly, this is it. It’s delicious and creamy and feels decadent. Don’t fear mixing mangoes and coffee, with this deeply warming puree it’s a total win.
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce of Coffee liquor (we used Griffo Cold Brew Coffee Liquor)
1 ½ ounces dark rum ( Diplomatico preferred)
3 ounces heavy cream
½ ounce Fall Mango Pie Spice Puree
Mango Pie Spice
Combine the coffee liquor, rum, cream and pie spice puree in a shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously for about 25 seconds and strain into a ricks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a little whipped cream and dusting of pie spice.
Mango Pie spice Ice Cream with White Chocolate Ripples
This ice cream contains all the joys of fall, the soft comforts of familiar vanilla, and the lush depth of pie spice. It’s a standalone dessert, but naturally it makes the perfect a la mode companion to many desserts – in other words, the world is your ice cream. Also, ice cream that you make has the added satisfaction of a job well done.
You’ll need an ice cream maker for this, but it’s worth the investment if you can spring it. The Crespo Organic Kitchen uses one of the high-end De’Longhi versions. These have a built-in compressor which makes the ice cream making process incredibly easy and quick. It can freeze your ice cream in under 30 minutes. There are several smaller compressor versions that are practical and economical for home use.
For the ice cream base:
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup Mango Pie Spice Puree
1 vanilla bean split
Pinch of salt
For the white chocolate ripples:
Enough melted white chocolate to please you
For the ice cream base:
Mix up the egg yolks and sugar until it’s super creamy and well mixed.
In a heavy bottom pan, heat the milk, cream, and salt until just about boiling. Whisk in a little of the hot milk mixture to the eggs (to temper) – then a little more, then a little more. Next, add the egg mixture to the warm milk mixture, turn the burner to medium-low, and allow the mixture to thicken, stirring constantly about 2-3 minutes. It should get thick and coats the spoon (but honestly, I don’t know if that description helps enough, it’s more a feeling that it’s the right consistency than anything).
Then strain it into a glass bowl (I think the glass cools it quicker). Put that bowl into an ice bath, stir a lot and let it cool as quickly as possible. Then, put that in the freezer for 20 minutes to get super cold. In the meantime, turn your ice cream maker on freeze so it gets cold.
Put the cold ice cream base in the ice cream maker and turn the churn and freeze on. Let it do its thing for about 30 minutes. Then add a stream of melted white chocolate and turn it on freeze for another 15 minutes.
Then I place that the mixture in a pre-chilled container (I like glass). At this point, it’s still kind of like soft serve and fun to dive into as is.