This post is dedicated to Jess – happy 25th birthday! I hope you like the cake and that it made it all the way to Pittsburgh through the snow. Enjoy!
I received an email earlier this week from my longtime friend Jess, who currently lives in Pittsburgh (because why not?). Prior to the City of Bridges, Jess has lived and traveled all over the world, including a 9 month study abroad all over the Asian Pacific Rim in college. She said she saw “a lot of crazy fruits and veggies [in Asia] and I had no idea how to make them taste good.”
She requested that I take one of these exotic fruits and make a special Kitchen Adventure in honor of her birthday. What a fantastic idea! Thinking about what to make, I became determined to send her the product, which meant I had to make something somewhat durable and non-perishable.
Jess listed several out of season exotic fruits (such as durian and mangosteen, which are on the Kitchen Adventure ingredient list for later in the year), which are hard to find this time of year, especially in Northern California. Luckily, canned lychees are available year-round, in all climates. Combine that with frozen (or canned) mango, and I came up with a tropical Asian cake that can be made even in the dead of winter!
Lychees grow on trees in several Pacific Rim countries, as well as South Africa and Madagascar. They are covered in an inedible spiky reddish peel but the flesh is somewhat translucent and white as you can see in the picture at left. The
texture of the flesh is somewhat similar to a grape, but less moist. The flavor is lightly sweet, delicate and fairly distinctive. They are often used in desserts, but a lot of the recipes I found were ice cream and custards, not very post office-friendly. Instead, I created a simple fruit-based cake that is incredibly easy to make.
The Lychee and Mango Cake is extremely moist and flavorful, so it really doesn’t need a frosting (lucky for me, since that wouldn’t ship well). You could make a simple glaze to drizzle over the cake, but brushing the top with lychee syrup just before serving gives it a boost in lychee flavor and a hint of sweetness that trumps a frosting any day.
Lychee and Mango Cake
- 2 C mango, pureed
- 1 C sugar
- 3/8 C lychee syrup (reserved from canned lychees)
- 2 C flour
- 2 t baking soda
- 3/4 C chopped canned lychees
- 1/4 C lychee syrup
- Powdered sugar for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°.
- Combine mango, sugar and lychee syrup.
- Add flour, baking soda and lychees, mixing until combined.
- Pour batter into greased 9×9 pan and bake on middle rack for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
- Allow cake to cool, then brush the top with lychee syrup. Serve with powdered sugar and extra lychees for garnish. (If you do this step ahead of time, the cake will get soggy.)