My mother is an avid baker, but when she moved to Thailand after college to work at a leprosy hospital, she didn't have access to the peaches, fresh berries and apricots that filled the cobbler recipes in her old copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Instead, she had mangos. Lots of mangos. She only mentioned her mango cobbler once many years ago, so I'm sure it will surprise her to learn I never forgot about it. But it stuck in my head, that mango cobbler, begging to be brought to life. And I'm so glad it did.
Cobblers are one of my favorite desserts. The soft, jammy fruit under a layer of flaky, not-too-sweet dough — it just needs a scoop of ice cream or a little whipped cream to make it the perfect finish to a casual meal. But when it is mangos under that biscuit cap, coconut whipped cream seems a little more appropriate, calling to mind the flavors of Thai mango and coconut sticky rice, with a very American makeover.
I use Ataulfo mangos — also called champagne or Manila mangos — for the filling because I love their sweet, intense flavor and find them less fibrous than the big Tommy Atkins mango, the variety most commonly sold in U.S. markets. Look for them at Asian or Latin markets, or at stores like Whole Foods. After baking, the slices hold their shape, but become soft and toothsome, much like peaches or nectarines.
Add a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes and a dollop of cold coconut whipped cream and you have a dessert that looks comfortingly familiar, yet tastes like nothing you've ever had before. If my mom didn't live on the other side of the world, this is what I would be making for her on Sunday — and not just to show her that yes, I was always listening after all.
Mango Cobbler with Coconut Whipped Cream
For the filling: 4 pounds ripe mangos, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the topping: 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/3 cup buttermilk 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut chips Coconut Whipped Cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat mango slices evenly. Transfer to a 9-inch square baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to rub butter into the mixture until it looks like coarse meal. Add the beaten egg and buttermilk, and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Spoon the batter over the hot mango mixture in 9 evenly-spaced clumps
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spread coconut chips evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown. Remove immediately from the hot pan and sprinkle over the cobbler.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of coconut whipped cream on each serving. (Be aware that the cream will melt quickly if the cobbler is warm.)
I use Ataulfo mangos — also called Manila or champagne mangos — because they are very sweet and not too fibrous. Other mango varieties can be substituted, but if they are quite tart, you may need to add additional sugar to the filling.
For a slightly less tropical dessert, serve the cobbler with regular whipped cream or vanilla ice cream instead of the coconut whipped cream.
This dessert tastes best the day it is made, but can be made up to one day ahead, cooled, and stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly with foil or plastic wrap.