Another holiday winner from the Crespo Organic Kitchen!
You know how much I hate mango recipes that seem meaningless, like someone just tossed mangoes into an already perfect recipe and they think they had a clever idea. Not even examining the ideal way to incorporate a mango into the recipe. The way mangoes are often put into recipes, especially by people selling the commodity is often reckless.
Creating recipes for commodities is difficult. On one hand you must be constantly churning out new ideas and on the other, at least if you are like me- they need to be realistic, delicious and lead people to want to make them again and again. Most of the people that want mango recipes, are generally mango lovers. I feel significant obligation in making sure all the recipes that I or anyone in the Crespo Organic Kitchen creates are not just marketing gimmicks designed to get those folks to buy more mangoes but truly practical and genius ways of teaching mango lovers how to incorporate the essence of fruit they love into really beautiful, easy to pull off final dishes and flavors. We want to teach them the amazing culinary versatility of mangoes and ideally help bring their own tasty ideas to fruition. People will naturally buy more mangoes the more we can educate mango eaters on the bounty of mango joy, mangoes offer.
Yesterday I went live from the Crespo Organic Kitchen to test out an idea I had flavoring ordinary nut brittle with mango puree. I’ve long enjoyed how the natural sugars in mangoes cook down so easily into a natural caramel and so this idea was exciting to me because the mango caramel I have been creating is so delicious and putting that essence in a nut brittle just seemed fun. Making it with macadamia nuts and some spice just made it that much more Latin American which excited me and pays homage to where we Americans get all of our mangoes from.
This idea was not just about creating another mango recipe but one that seriously improves regular nut brittle. Nut brittle can often seem like one singular sweet note. Adding mangoes adds more vibrancy, more layers of flavor and more tastes, not to mention a fun tropical twist. The chili heat balances the sweet of the sugar and corn syrup wonderfully.
I’m happy with how this turned out, even though the live recipe testing was nerve wrecking because I didn’t have a candy thermometer. But I have been teaching cooking now for over 25 years and one of my the greatest strengths in actually teaching is how I am not afraid to let people see me flail and even sometimes fail. The reality is that no matter how good of a cook you are, failure and difficulty is inevitable. How we react and think during those key moments of flailing is what makes all the difference, maybe not always in that particular dish, but in what we learn for the future. That’s how it works in life and in the kitchen. I wish more food fame folks were willing to allow us average cookers to see them flail, as they all do.
I learned a lot testing the recipe, as is the goal of testing, so the final recipe below has been tweaked from the live version using what I had learned in my flailing, including stirring way less, letting it cook the full ten minutes and I finally bought a candy thermometer for next time! I also added some dried mango bits to my second batch which made it most excellent and more mango centric!
If you are looking for a last-minute gift idea for your favorite mango lover, I say give the gift of Mango Macadamia Nut Brittle and a few fresh mangoes.
Mango Macadamia Nut Chili Brittle
When it comes to gifting brittle, this is the recipe to give. It’s a fun and easy to make brittle recipe that has a great deal more depth than the average brittle. The tropical mango components ad a bit of vibrancy and the chili flakes add a tinge of heat that sugary brittle needs. The slight salty and herbaceous aspect is pleasing and balances the heat and sugar.
I highly advice buying Burlap & Barrels Cobanero Chili Flakes. They have exceptional heat and a smoky flavor but are also much fruitier than the average chili flake, making them an exceptional pairing partner for mangoes. They are an ancient Mayan chili and grow in the mountains around Guatemala.
The most important thing to note when making brittle is to move swiftly and carefully. Make sure all your ingredients are pre-measured and that your utensils and baking sheet are prepped and ready ahead of time.
Makes about 2 ½ pounds of brittle
1 cup thick mango puree
¼ teaspoon Cobanero chili flakes
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed small
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
¼ cup currants
1/4 cup chopped fine dried mango
½ teaspoon Maldon finishing salt
¼ teaspoon chopped rosemary
Cook the mango puree over medium high heat for about 4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. The mango puree will start to turn dark as the sugars caramelize. Add the chili flakes, cinnamon, sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil, making sure to stir well at the beginning to get everything mixed up.
Let the mixture boil, it will look vigorous, which is good, stir only occasionally for a total of about 10 minutes or until the mixture turns a deep caramel color and registers 300° F on a candy thermometer.
At this point you will need to move carefully and quickly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Stir in the nuts, currants and dried mangoes and then immediately pour the brittle onto a large nonstick baking sheet (I put parchment paper down on mine). Spread the mixture into a thin and even layer across the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt and rosemary and then allow to cool for about 40 minutes. Once it is hard you can break the brittle into desired sizes pieces. If your brittle does not reach 300° F it will not turn hard. That’s ok, you can slice it with a knife and it will eat more like a caramel or taffy.
Store at room temperature for about a month in Ziplock bag or airtight container.