Tart of Triumph
Since I started my epic challenge to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021 (find out more about that here), I’ve had a lot of success with Tamal Ray’s The Sweet Spot recipes (including: lemon crumble cookies, chai-spiced mousse with caramel pecans and Japanese cheesecake with cherries in syrup ). However, his mango meringue pie threatened to overcome my skill levels and make me redecorate our kitchen.
Never in the course of human pudding endeavours has one woman spent so much time wondering if she was doing it right. And this is a great thing about this project: I’m learning so much! And, as you’ll see from my triumphant end product, Tamal’s pie is so worth overcoming terror of processes, lack of knowledge and general apathy when faced by cooking setbacks.
I don’t think my tinned mango pulp was the ‘kesar’ or ‘alphonso’ in the recipe but it seemed to work and tasted superb. For the mango filling, Tamal asks you to put the mango and lime juice into a saucepan and reduce them by 300g in weight – I’ve never had to do this before. I protected my scales from the hot pan with a cork mat and managed the reduction – although it took a little longer than 40 minutes. I think I was a bit cautious about the mix sticking to the bottom of the pan. It didn’t.
I’m getting a bit better at pastry (pricking, blind baking and all that) – but still not great at rolling out the pastry to the right size. As you’ll see from the pics below, my pastry shrunk too far in places.
The filling finally chilling, the pastry case baked, I set about making the meringue. I followed Tamal’s instructions and whisked the egg whites, taste of lime juice and salt to soft peaks bang on the moment the golden syrup, sugar and water hit 110C. Then, ass soon as the syrup reached the required 118C, I drizzled it gradually into the whites, whisking all the while. It looked like it would never go stiff and glossy. In fact it looked as deflated as I felt.
Don’t tell Tamal, but in a panic I put in some cornflour in the hopes this would remedy it. No luck. I did a quick internet search on Italian meringue and read something that said to whisk for ten minutes plus. By this time, I was overheated and so was my hand whisk. However: success! I had sprayed meringue over the recipe, across the work surface and up the walls. I didn’t care: my meringue was ‘stiff and glossy’.
The next challenge came with pouring the filling – which was a tad liquid – into the case – which was a tad challenged at the sides. I tucked some of the cooked offcuts into the worst gaps and tipped the orange mango nectar in. I ladled on the meringue and began to feel pretty good about myself. A quick blowtorching of the meringue and, hallelujah!
It is true that the filling was a bit runny when cut, so maybe I didn’t reduce quite enough after all but…
Dear reader, this pie is a beautiful thing. A fine centre piece for any celebration. Sweet, yes, but the touch of lime in filling and meringue is transformative. My Sri Lankan friend says that lime juice reveals the true flavour of mango. She is absolutely right.
Tamal Ray – mango meringue pie