Tropical Fruit Pudding
Layers of ladyfingers soaked with fruit juice alternate with coconut-ginger pastry cream and fresh fruit in this tropical version of English trifle. Chef George McKirdy uses strawberries and tropical fruits, but you could use a variety of berries, peaches, plums, or whatever local fruits are in season as well.
- Lady Fingers
- Egg Yolks - 5
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Egg Whites - 5
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- White Vinegar - 3 drops
- Vanilla - 1 teaspoon
- All-purpose flour - 1/4 cup (4-1/2 ounces)
- Potato Starch - 3 tablespoons (1 ounce)
- Pinch of salt
- Confectioner’s sugar - for dusting
- Coconut-Ginger Pastry Cream
- Whole Milk - 3 cups
- Sugar - 1-1/4 cup (9 ounces)
- Vanilla bean - 1/2, split
- Ginger - 1-1/2 tablespoons, blanched, finely grated
- Corn Starch - 31/2 cup ( ounces)
- Coconut milk - 1 cup
- Egg Yolks - 16
- Water - 1 quart
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Spiced Rum - 2 tablespoons
- Vanilla bean - 1, split
- Ripe Pineapple - 1, cut in 1/4-inch dice; reserve the leaves
- Ripe Mangos - 2, cut in 1/4-inch dice
- Strawberries - 2 pints, stemmed and cut in small dice 2 cups sugar
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- coconut - 1/4
- White Chocolate - 4 ounces, cut in curls (see Basics)
- Chocolate Strips - 24, (see Basics)
To make the lady fingers: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line 2 baking sheets with ungreased parchment paper. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar together until the mixture is light yellow in color and forms a ribbon when dribbled on the surface. In a deep bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat, and slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry peaks form. Beat in the vinegar and vanilla. Fold one fourth of the yolks into the whites, then alternately fold in the dry ingredients and whites into the yolks, beginning and ending with the whites. Put the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip and pipe onto the prepared sheets, leaving at least 1-1/2 inches between each “line.” Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until slightly golden and baked through. Remove and let cool.
To make the pastry cream: In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk with one half of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, add the ginger, and remove from the heat. Allow to steep 4 to 5 minutes.
Place the starch and remaining sugar in a bowl and mix together with the coconut milk. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until foamy. Add the yolks to the coconut milk mixture and stir to blend. Pour a small amount of the warm milk into the egg-coconut mixture, stirring constantly, then slowly pour in the remaining warm milk while stirring. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve or chinois into a stainless steel pot. Cook, stirring continuously. When the custard begins to thicken, stir more vigorously and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring vigorously to keep the bottom from scorching. After the first sign of boiling, remove the pan from the heat and pour into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to keep it from forming a skin.
To prepare the fruit: Bring the sugar, water, rum, and vanilla bean to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pineapple. Cook 3 minutes (the riper the fruit, the less the time), remove from heat, and stir in the mango. Let stand 1 minute, then stir in the strawberries. Allow to cool.
To toast the coconut: Heat the broiler to high. Cut the coconut into chunks and coarsely grate on a box-type grater. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil for 2 - 3 minutes, until lightly browned.
To assemble: Beat the pastry cream until smooth. In a deep bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Reserve 1 cup and fold the remainder into the pastry cream. Split the ladyfingers in half crosswise. Line the bottom of a large bowl with lady fingers and brush them with the juice from the fruit. Spread an even layer of all three fruits across the lady fingers. Top with one half of the coconut-ginger pastry cream. Repeat, pressing the ladyfingers down lightly. Top with a final layer of lady fingers which have been dipped in the combined fruit juices, pressing them lightly into the cream. Chill at least 3 hours.
To serve: Scoop the fruit pudding into large martini-style glasses. Top each with a dollop of the reserved whipped cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and white chocolate curls. Pull the tenderest leaves from the center of the reserved pineapple crown and stand them upright in the top of the dessert. Stand 3 chocolate strips in each dessert.