The perfect dessert combination of mango and chocolate

The mango pistachio trocodero at La Folie
The mango pistachio trocodero at La Folie

Summary

Chocolatiers and pastry chefs are highlighting two summer favourites of mango and chocolate in their decadent creations

For most of us, the mango is synonymous with joy that only a summer break could bring while growing up—that sense of carefree abandon, of sitting around the table with friends and cousins, exchanging banter over bowlfuls of pulpy, sweet goodness. The more creative of us would add a playful touch, grating shards of Dairy Milk chocolate on it or freezing chunks with different flavours of ice cream. Though the combination has been around for some time now, chocolatiers and pastry chefs are furthering innovation with pairings of mango and chocolate in gourmet indulgences.

Be it in pastry, flan, popsicles or bars, these two evergreen ingredients are playing a starring role in sweet summer dessert creations. However, care has been taken to understand the personality of each mango variety—be it the Alphonso, kesar, dasheri, Banganapalle or totapuri—while pairing it with different kinds of chocolate and supporting ingredients.

At Hyderabad-based Manam Chocolate, for instance, local varieties grown in and around Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, are being used in all forms as part of the 2024 edition of the Manam Mango Summers menu. Head chef Ruby Islam has used the Himayat mango, a creamy, juicy variety from Andhra Pradesh, in a cream cake. The distinct flavour notes of this variety pair beautifully with subtle notes of Sri Lankan vanilla in this dessert.

Also read: This Pune-based chef creates flavours from scratch

“The season’s bounty also features pedda rasalu, which is pulpy with sharp tart notes, similar to those of green heirloom tomatoes," elaborates Chef Ruby. This mango pairs with a 45% milk chocolate infused with cardamom, and a hazelnut praline crunch. The tart notes of the fruit are balanced with the sweetness of single-origin chocolate from West Godavari. The aromatic kesar variety, known for its versatility, is used in two creations—it comes together with aromatic sweet saffron in a Viennoiserie, and then it pairs with Guntur chillies and 67% dark chocolate in a bon bon.

The fresh Himayat cream cake, which are part of the 2024 Manam Mango Summers menu
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The fresh Himayat cream cake, which are part of the 2024 Manam Mango Summers menu

The pairings are made interesting by the coming together of similarities and contrasts of flavours. “Kesar is a floral sweet mango that pairs well with citrus fruity notes of 67% Dark Single Origin West Godavari Chocolate. As craft chocolate makers, we move away from the simplicity of classifying chocolates as bitter or sweet but gravitate towards the complexity of flavour notes, and create recipes inspired by that," says Chef Ruby. All of these creations can be savoured at the Manam Chocolate Karkhana in Hyderabad, while select products are available for shipping pan-India through the website.

The Alphonso has remained a favourite with chocolatiers through the year. At Paul & Mike, a farm to bar chocolate brand headquartered in Kochi, Kerala, rich creamy milk chocolate is combined with bits of Alphonso mango. Since the fruit is freeze-dried, it remains available to be used in bars throughout the year. “This chocolate bar is our best-seller," says Vikas Temani, founder and CEO, Paul & Mike, which focuses on pairing Indian fruit varieties such as jamun and sitaphal with single-origin chocolate. The reason the team chose Alphonso is because of just how well people relate to it across the country. “Someone might not have had kesar or totapuri while growing up, but nearly everyone has heard of and tried the Alphonso. So, there is a sense of relatability. We have used milk chocolate as dark chocolate can sometimes overpower a delicate variety such as the Alphonso," he adds.

The complexity of the cacao bean, and its origins, also play an important role in the way chocolate is paired with the mango. According to Sanjana Patel, co-founder and director, La Folie, Mumbai—which makes a range of artisanal chocolates and desserts—the beans have a special fermentation cycle. That imbues the bean with a citrus profile and tropical fruity notes. “The beans, which we source from Kerala and, now, Varanashi Farms in Karnataka, pair well with totapuri mangoes," explains Patel. In one of their chocolate offerings, the La Folie team makes use of dry mango powder made from totapuri, while adding some heat of the Naga chilli for that extra zing. “We hope to evoke memories of nani’s mango pickle through this combination," she adds.

Also read: How chefs are transforming vegetables into delectable desserts

Just like the cacao bean, the form in which the mango is used—diced, sliced, pureed and juiced—depends on its variety and source too. “As per tradition, we have all consumed mangoes merely as cut and diced. However, each mango has a unique texture, and we have tried to bring out the best of those in our pastries and chocolate concepts," says Chef Ruby. So, the creamy Himayat mango is highlighted as a smooth velvet custard in a flan, the Alphonso has been turned into a confit in a bon bon, and the pedda rasalu transforms into a coulis at Manam Chocolate. “The kesar works beautifully as a crème anglaise in a tres leches and a compote in a danish," she adds.

At La Folie, Patel makes use of four varieties of organic mangoes sourced from farms in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Of these, the rajapuri and totapuri are turned into purees, are dehydrated and candies, or dried and powdered. The Alphonso and kesar are sourced from Shivom Organic Farms in Raigad district, which are then used in fresh forms as cold gels, compote or cubes on chocolate desserts. Patel likes to showcase different textures and mouthfeel in her creations. “This year, we played with the vibrance of pistachios, floral spices like saffron, citrus fruits such as calamansi and green lime and ricotta cream cheese in white chocolate creations. These ingredients have paired well, while keeping mango and white chocolate at the heart of it all," she adds.

The DIY Mango sundae at  Manam Chocolate. Photo: Daksh Chindalia
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The DIY Mango sundae at Manam Chocolate. Photo: Daksh Chindalia

White chocolate seems to be quite a popular companion to the mango at JW Marriott Goa, Vagator, as well. There, executive chef Abhishek Singh has used the two in the chilli chocolate mango popsicle. In this, a decadent white chocolate mango mousse comes together with chocolate crumble to offer a play of texture and temperatures. The popsicle is garnished with fresh mango cubes and handmade mango chilli, and served with a chilli chocolate sorbet.

If Singh is harking back to childhood with an elegant take on creamy ice creams, Chef Ruby is drawing on the nostalgia of pairing mango with soft vanilla cake, bought from local bakeries. She has created an engaging DIY mango sundae, in which you can choose special flavours of gelato or soft serve such as 45 % milk chocolate, coffee and hazelnut cereal or the pistachio gianduja and pour Manam Chocolate’s signature dark, milk or white chocolate over chunks of fresh mangoes, cake, and more. “It is a new and fun way of enjoying the season’s best harvest," she adds.

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