So -- how does this relate to papaya pudding? Last week when I was shopping for our cooking classes at the nearby Latino market, the papaya display was too irresistible to pass by. So I didn't. Happily lugging my three-pound papaya home, I wondered what I'd do with it all. Eating a papaya fresh is always nice. So are morning smoothies. But with all that papaya, I started looking around for something more interesting.
That's when I came upon Padma Lakshmi's Tangy, Hot and Sweet cookbook at the library, enthralled by the idea of Chilled Papaya Mousse. I gave the recipe a try and was really happy I did. It is much more pudding-like than mousse-like, but the flavor and texture is none-the-less delicious: smooth, rich, sweet but not too sweet, flavorful without being too-papaya-y, and a lovely bright orange color. It is also one of those memorable foods. You know, the ones that you think about for a while -- you eat it slowly, taking more bites so you can decipher the flavors. One that you daydream about having again some time soon. Meanwhile, it's pretty simple and straight-forward to make (although you do need to keep chill-time in mind -- it needs about 8 hours in the fridge before serving). This recipe is an adaptation of Padma's recipe.
1 pound of fresh papaya, skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Scant 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (or, if you are at a Latino market, grab some of the Mexican brown sugar: panela/piloncilla)
tiny pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream (if you try this with something else, let me know -- I'm curious if it would be ok to substitute whole milk or a non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons Cointreau
1. In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, cook the papaya, vanilla and brown sugar, stirring constantly, 4-5 minutes. The edges of the papaya will lose their shape and the papaya will start to get softer. Remove from heat.
2. With an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor, puree the papaya mixture until smooth.
3. Return to the heat (and to the saucepan if you used a blender or food processor). Whisking constantly, add the cream in increments over 8 minutes. Add the Cointreau in the last 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Put the papaya-pudding-to-be in a sealed container and place in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, you can chill in individual servings.
5. Serve with (or without) a dollop of fresh whipped cream.