Nothing else is sweeter than being named a winner for a dessert. To celebrate I baked this Macapuno Pie for dessert. My essay “A Hundred Mangoes in a Bottle” won in the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Awards. This year’s theme was desserts. And because I love mangoes and desserts made from mangoes, then it was only logical I write about it.
My winning essay started out as a dilemma. I was lamenting with regret that I never got the mango jam recipe of my late mom. I regretted never asking her for it. And because of this, the recipe, the jam, the sweet flavors of it all have remained elusive all my life. No matter what I do or how I make it, I can never make the jam right, or get the correct sweetness.
It is this longing that led me to make all sorts of desserts, with different Asian fruits or ingredients. Give me a mango, and I’ve done everything there can be done with a mango. Well, nearly everything. Give me a sweet jackfruit, and I’ve done things no one has dared.
Give me a coconut. Well, there is no telling how I can even begin. A majority of Filipino desserts are made of rice, coconut and sugar. And every single one of these desserts are a delight. One of my favorite sweets is the “macapuno”, a mutant coconut which is also called “coconut sport”.
I’ve always been drawn to the sweet macapuno, which is sweeter than the regular coconut. Growing up, I used to look forward to the macapuno used in desserts for our family events. When my mom did use it, I knew the event was special. The memory of it all comes back to me when I use a bottle of sweet macapuno for desserts I bake for my family.
I had macapuno left from another dessert. What should I make with all these sweet strings, I asked myself. A pie came to mind. I put together a crust, pre-baked it and then prepared the filling. It was easy to find ingredients right in my kitchen : heavy cream, coconut milk, cornstarch and several cups of bottled macapuno. I mixed it all and poured it in the pie shell.
While it was baking, I checked my ice cream supply. Pie and ice cream proved to be a good dessert combo. I found a surplus of homemade mango ice cream in my freezer. It was an “aha” moment. The promise of a wonderful dessert was in my horizon right after dinner.
The macapuno filling baked well. The results were magnificent. A slice of macapuno pie tasted like pie heaven. The filling was creamy, coconut-like but sweeter. The sweet silky strings of macapuno were nestled in the sticky, almost custard-like filling of heavy cream and coconut milk. This sweetness was encased in a fluffy, buttery pastry. A scoop of homemade mango ice cream and a slice of savory macapuno pie. It was my kind of dessert ~ marvelous !
An appreciation of thanks goes to the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Awards organizers for mentioning me in their recent feature. I was overjoyed to find this great write-up from the widely circulated “Philippine Daily Inquirer”. Thank you, Micky Fenix and DGF awards folks! I am deeply honored and feel even more grateful that my prized essay will be published in a book along with 55 other winning food essays. What a privilege to be in the same pages as the best of the best in foodwriting! Even better, to receive an award in the name of Doreen Gamboa Fernandez, the lady who pioneered in Filipino food writing, and whom I admired greatly for years till she passed on. She was an inspiration!
- Rolling pin
- Pie Plate - deep dish
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter chilled, cut in small pieces unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup Crisco shortening chilled Crisco shortening
- 4 to 6 Tablespoons ice water
- 3 cups macapuno strings (bottled)
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup coconut milk, canned
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 whole large egg, beaten for egg wash
- 1/4 cup water, combine with egg wash
- for serving: ice cream
- To make the pie crust: Sift the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the butter and shortening to the flour mixture and cut with a pastry blender or pulse in the food processor. The texture should look like little peas.Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time. Mix the pastry dough until it is smooth. Mix by hand or continue to use the food processor. The pastry should hold well together and look smooth.Place the dough on a floured surface. Divide into 2 disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate overnight so that it gets firm and easy to handle.
- The next day, roll out one pastry disk to fit the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the bottom crust with a fork. Line the pie shell with parchment paper, enough to cover it. Fill the bottom with pie weights or dried beans. This prevents the pastry from puffing up while baking.
- Bake the bottom pie crust at a preheated oven of 350 F degrees for 15 minutes. When done, take out of the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling.Whisk together in a bowl the coconut milk and cornstarch till smooth and there are no more lumps. Set this aside.
- To make the pie filling: In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, combine the heavy cream and sugar. Mix well and let this simmer in about 3 to 4 minutes. Very slowly, add the coconut milk and cornstarch mixture. Then add the bottled macapuno strings, including the syrup. Incorporate it well
- Cook this mixture till it thickens in about 2 minutes. Pour into the pre-baked pie shell.
- Roll out the second pastry disk on a floured surface. Place the pastry on top of the filled pie. Seal the edges with egg wash and prick the sides with a fork. Brush the entire pie top with egg wash.
- Bake the pie in a preheated oven of 350 F degrees for 40 minutes. Then check the pie and turn it around inside the oven, for even baking. Bake for another 10 minutes more.
- When done, cool the pie on the counter. Serve with ice cream on the side.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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