Summer means many things: sunshine and beach hair and freckles. Simple dinners off the grill eaten barefoot. And fruit. So much ripe, juicy fruit. A respite from the endless winter months of cold-storage apples and citrus. A rainbow of stone fruits, melons of all shapes and sizes, and berries galore.
While there is nothing wrong with a dessert of the freshest ripest fruit, either shining on its own or gilded with a bit of whipped cream, there is something about a baked dessert that is just a bit more celebratory.
Easy never tasted so awesome.
Except it is summer, and hot, and humid, and having the oven on all afternoon is not exactly a desirable thing. And no one has the patience for fussy pastry work in the heat of the day.
Enter a four-ingredient, last-minute dessert that is as elegant as anything from your favorite patisserie, and faster to make than your favorite brownie recipe.
I recently had the enormous pleasure of helping my friend Jacqui throw a dinner party. She is an accomplished chef and caterer, recipe developer, and cookbook author, and the day was filled with unexpected little nuggets of tips and tricks and recipes that were new to me, but instantly solid members of the repertoire. And it was this simple but powerful dessert that really stole the show.
We are in the height of the short-lived Indian Kesar mango season, and if you have never had one of these silken floral beauties, I recommend you get yourself to your nearest Indian market and buy a box. Watching Jacqui almost offhandedly peel and slice these indulgent fruits, and shingle them on top of store-bought puff pastry, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar, and then bake into what she called “mango slippers” was a complete revelation. The results were thin tartlets with crisp, buttery crusts, barely cooked fruit that still bore the sensual perfume of the fresh, but which had given up just enough of its juices to mingle with the sugar and become a thin caramel. Pure genius. Barely a recipe, simply a technique, and infinitely changeable.
You can make these slipper-style desserts with pretty much any fruit, although it particularly lends itself to stone fruits. Mangos are amazing, but try peaches, plums, or nectarines as the summer makes them available. Make mini one-bite versions with a single sliced strawberry or a cluster of three raspberries or blackberries. Try using different sugars, like vanilla sugar with peaches or maple sugar with plums or even honey crystals with berries.
We served our mango version with a rich rice pudding, but they would be great with ice cream, brown sugar sour cream, or crème fraiche scented with vanilla. A sprinkle of toasted nuts would not go amiss here, from bright green slivered pistachios to delicate sliced almonds to musky pine nuts. You could also try a drizzle of syrup (a blackcurrant syrup with peaches or rose syrup with mango would be totally next level).
To make your own version of Jacqui’s slippers, simply buy puff pastry and thaw according to package directions. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Peel and slice your chosen fruit and cut out shapes of the puff pastry in sizes about ½ inch wider than the fruit you are using, which you can do with a biscuit cutter for round shapes or freehand with the tip of a paring knife for other shapes. Prick the center of the dough shapes a few times with a fork to prevent them puffing but leave that ½ inch edge undocked. Arrange the shapes on top of a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, and then place your fruit on top. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for 12-18 minutes, turning trays halfway through baking. The slippers are done when they are golden around the edges and browned on the bottom. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan on a rack, then transfer to the cooling rack to finish cooling completely. You can serve warm or room temp.
No idea how long they will keep, because there have, as of yet, never been leftovers beyond what we might make on purpose to have for breakfast.
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