Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Mascarpone
This dessert is inspired by two quintessential Thai desserts: one is sticky rice and mango, which features the sweet, gooey, coconut-flavored glutinous rice and fresh ripe mangoes; the other is a duo of sweet sticky rice and steamed palm sugar-egg custard. Both are – not surprisingly – much loved in Thailand and overseas. What’s not to like about two desserts that capture so well everything we love about rice pudding – one of the greatest comfort foods of all time?
This recipe combines this classic dessert with another favorite comfort food – macaroni and cheese. Neither pasta nor dairy is traditionally part of the Thai cuisine, but rich, creamy Mascarpone produces a delicious result and doesn’t overpower the delicate flavor of the dish. Also, instead of rice, we use orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, which cooks easily in a short period of time and holds its shape very well in a baked dessert such as this.
The result is a baked rice pudding-like sweet macaroni and cheese that is so good it’s unfair for it to be regarded as a novelty dish born out of a kitchen experiment that exists to confirm a hypothesis then fades into oblivion; this is a delicious dessert on its own merit. The gooey, cheesy pasta layer forms at the bottom; the eggy, custardy layer forms on the top; together they create a perfect combination. The dessert can be served warm, at room temperature, or even cold.
The coconut cream is what connects this baked orzo-Mascarpone soufflé to the desserts which have inspired it. You can leave it out and serve the baked soufflé unadorned, but this dessert becomes so much more special when it’s served in a pool of creamy coconut sauce and fresh mango on the side.
Experiment with the juxtapositions of temperatures of the coconut cream and the baked soufflé to see what you like best: serve soufflé warm with cold coconut cream or serve it cold in warm coconut cream. Both are great.
If you really want to make this dessert truly special, seek out fully ripe Ataulfo mangoes (also referred to as Manila mangoes) at an Asian or Hispanic grocery store in your area. These mangoes are sweeter, more fragrant, and much less fibrous than the variety normally found at most mainstream grocery stores. But if you can’t find Ataulfo mangoes, use any type of mango you can find; be sure they are fully ripe.
Baked Orzo-Mascarpone Soufflé with Coconut Cream and Mango
6 cups water
1 1/4 cups orzo pasta
1 tablespoon butter, softened
8 ounces Wisconsin Mascarpone, softened
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 15-ounce can sweetened coconut cream (such as Coco López)
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
In a large pot, bring water to a boil on high heat. Add the orzo; stir. Bring the heat down to medium-high and cook the pasta, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta through a colander and rinse it under cold running water. Shake off excess water; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8x8x3 baking dish with the softened butter.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together Mascarpone, egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla. Once the cheese mixture is smooth and completely free of lumps, whisk in milk. Fold in the cooked pasta; set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the custard mixture, one-third at a time.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Put the pan on a rack placed in the middle of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is brown, the edges are firm, and the center jiggles only slightly when the pan is shaken. Let the baked soufflé cool down to slightly warmer than room temperature before serving.
To serve, spoon some coconut cream onto a plate, place a square of the soufflé right in the pool of coconut cream, and garnish with some mango dice.
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Macaroni & Cheese, mango, Mascarpone, souffle, Wisconsin Cheese
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