Author Notes: Mango kulfi was one of my favorite treats when I was a little kid. My brother and parents and I often went shopping in Jackson Heights, Queens, on the weekends, and, as a reward for enduring the throngs of people, we would get a mango kulfi pop. Neither my brother nor I were big ice cream eaters (and we still aren't), but we loved this stuff - cool yogurt, tart mango, mellow cardamom, earthy saffron, and crunchy pistachios - a sophisticated dessert for a kid, but delicious nonetheless. This cake - which I've made a few times for my mom's birthday - is based on my mango kulfi cupcakes, but has been spruced up with the addition of saffron to the cake batter and pistachios between the layers and on top of the cake to make it taste even more like real mango kulfi. —raspberryeggplant
Makes: one two-layer 9" cake - serves 12
teaspoon lightly crushed saffron threads
large egg whites, room temperature
tablespoon vodka, room temperature
cups cake flour, plus 1-2 tablespoons more for dusting the pans
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
Alphonso mango meringue buttercream frosting and filling
cup shelled raw pistachios
ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
cup Alphonso mango puree
- Set an oven rack in the middle position. Heat the oven to 350º F. Spray the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray or lightly butter them. Line the bottoms with parchment rounds. Spray or butter the paper rounds and dust the pans with 1 tablespoon of flour each. Invert the pans and bang them out over the sink to remove excess flour.
- Heat 1/2 cup of the milk until it is steaming and transfer to a medium sized bowl. Crumble the saffron into the milk and let steep for 10 minutes. Add the remaining milk, egg whites, vodka, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl. Blend on the lowest speed until just combined. Add the butter and beat at low speed until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, about 1 ½ minutes.
- Add all but ½ cup of the milk mixture and mix at medium speed for 1 ½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the remaining mixture and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 20 seconds.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and spread it out to the walls and smooth out the tops. Bang the pans against the counter a few times to even out the batter and remove any bubbles.
- Arrange the pans on the oven rack so that there is at least 3 inches of space around each pan (this allows for proper air circulation and even baking). Bake for 23-25 minutes; a toothpick should come out clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then invert them onto a plate and then onto a cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
Alphonso mango meringue buttercream frosting and filling
- While the oven is still hot from baking the cakes, place the pistachios on a baking sheet and lightly toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool. When the nuts are cool, coarsely chop them in a mini chopper or by hand, or transfer them to a large freezer bag and whack the nuts with a rolling pin (my preferred method - way more fun).
- Bring 1-2" of water to a simmer in a saucepan that is wide enough for the bowl of your mixer to sit on top of it (but not so big that the bowl falls in).
- Add the egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl. Whisk well to combine, then place over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is opaque and thick, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the bowl to the mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Start on low speed and over the course of 30 seconds, bring the speed up to high. Whip on high speed until the whites are thick and glossy and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 7 minutes.
- While the whites are whipping, cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks. It's important that the butter is not too warm, so if it's squishy, put it in the fridge for a while so that it's somewhat firm but still pliant.
- When the whites are cool, scrape down the sides of the bowl and lower the speed to 8. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and whip until combined, about 10 seconds. Continue with the remaining butter, waiting 10 seconds between each addition.
- When all the butter has been added, turn the speed to high and whip until the mixture comes together to form a thick frosting. This may take a while depending on how hot or humid it is, but don't lose faith - it will come together! After the frosting comes together, continue to mix on medium-high speed for another minute.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add half of the mango puree. Mix on low speed, then increase the speed to high to combine fully. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the remaining mango puree. Transfer 1/2 cup of the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
- Assemble the cake: using a serrated knife or cake trimmer to level the tops of the cakes. (This recipe produced a pretty flat cake – very little doming – so I didn’t have to cut too much off.)
- Place one cake cut side down (bottom facing up) on a cake platter or serving plate. Before doing this, put bill-sized pieces of foil or waxed paper around the edge of the plate, then put the cake on top – this will keep your serving plate clean.
- Spread ¾ cup of the frosting on the cake and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle all but 2 tablespoons of the crushed pistachios onto the frosting.
- Place the second cake, cut side down, on top of the frosted layer. Spread about ½ cup of frosting on top and spread it out in a very thin layer along the top and sides of the cake, using more if necessary, to form a crumb coat.
- Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is hard, about 30-40 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake to form a smooth, even layer.
- Using the reserved frosting, pipe stars onto the border of the cake and sprinkle the reserved pistachios in the center of the cake.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Cardamom