People and Food: Spiced Mango Jar Cakes

This no-bake tropical treat is a perfect dessert for when you have an abundance of mangoes.

Mango jar cakes
Spiced Mango Jar Cake is perfect for the galley.Lynda Morris Childress

Nothing evokes the tropics like the sweet, sticky ­perfume of a ripe mango. It's irresistible–which is why, during the height of mango season, I always seem to come home from the market with a kilo or two more than I really need. I make big batches of mango chutney and fill the dehydrator several times, but it isn't enough to use them all up. I still end up with a big bowl of mangoes on the galley counter of Kate, our Newport 41. During our 10 years of sailing in the ­tropics, many recipes have been born from this ­abundance. One of our favorites is Spiced Mango Jar Cakes. No baking is required–they can be steamed either in a pressure ­cooker or on the stovetop. A tropical twist on an old family favorite, these individual desserts are both ­delicious and elegant.

Cook's Notes: If you don’t have a trivet, you can improvise. The goal is to keep the jars slightly above the pot bottom. Try an upside-down ovenproof pie plate, an ovenproof ceramic dish or a stainless-steel vegetable-steamer basket insert.

Spiced Mango Jar Cakes

  • 3 large, ripe mangoes
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup raw or white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Note: You will need five half-pint canning jars or ramekins, kitchen twine or cotton string, wax paper, and aluminum foil.

Peel mango and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place a few pieces in the bottom of each jar. Put the rest into a pan, add honey and water, and bring to a simmer, mashing the mango as it heats. Simmer 5–7 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and drain any excess water. Puree using an immersion blender or food processor if you have one; if not, pass mango through a fine sieve, using a spoon to work it through until you have a smooth puree. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla, egg yolk and milk. Mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and spices, and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk egg white into medium-to-stiff peaks. Gently fold into cake batter.

Fill each jar about half full with batter (it will rise). Gently spoon equal amounts of mango puree on top. Cover jars with a round of wax paper and a round of foil. Secure with kitchen twine, cotton string or a screw ring (if your canning jars have this type of two-part lid). Add an inch or two of water, a trivet and jars to a pressure cooker or large cooking pot. Steam in pressure cooker at 15 psi for 14 minutes, natural release, on a stovetop, cook covered, at a steady simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest for 5–10 minutes. Carefully remove jars from pot, remove covers and serve while warm. Eat right from the jars. (This is a “make now, eat now” dessert!) Makes 4–5 servings.

Preparation: At anchor or dock
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes