Southern French summers were hot and dry. If you ventured outside in the middle of the afternoon, your blood thanked you by trying to boil and thicken into boudin noir (a pig blood sausage). In an almost cartoonish manner, looking into the distance you might see wavering trees and wonder if they were just a mirage. And there was one heat wave where at 10 o’clock in the morning we’d roll down every shutter in the house and plaster ourselves to a couch.
In Wisconsin, the summers were hot and humid. Miserably humid. So heavy you could cut right through the air was always the complaint when adults were shooting the (inexistent) breeze…sorry. Couldn’t help myself, pun very much intended. We’d also plaster ourselves to the couch…although there was also the daily trip to the supermarket where we’d blast the AC in the car and take our time meandering through the store.
I’m not sure which I dislike more. It is true that dry weather means that if you wait long enough, you get a small break from the heat. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a deck or a yard, you can sit outside and sip coffee or tea in the morning and then have a glass of chilled rosé at the end of the day as the sun goes down.
But humidity means you can dress in the same thing the whole day. It means there are always a couple of days before or after the violent thunderstorms and torrential downpours that there is actually a breeze and you can run and play and feel comfortable again.
In the end, I suppose it doesn’t really matter which I prefer. You live somewhere. You get used to it. The end.
Here in Chengdu, it’s that Wisconsin kind of heat, and for all intents and purposes summer is here. Unofficially, but it’s here.
And summer makes me want fruit. Citrusy, exotic fruit. Like mangoes and lemons.
Now, I know that in some parts of the world mangoes are not run-of-the-mill, cheapies that you’d normally bake with. But I promise. I tweaked (or rather completely never followed any recipe whatsoever) this recipe as I tested it and somewhere around the 500th time got the family-wide seal of approval (my sugar-coated, sticky fingers will also show you double thumbs up once I finish
licking them washing them).
These bars are creamy. They are custardy. And they should be served chilled with a glass of equally chilled milk.
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons lemon
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Parchment paper to line pan
- 8x8 pan
- Mango Lemon Curd:
- ¾ c mango pulp
- ⅓ cup lemon
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- Zest from one lemon
- ½ cup butter
- First, you’ll make the bar’s crust. Preheat oven to 350°F or 175°C.
- Sift together the flour, lemon, sugar, and salt. Pour in the butter and use a spatula to pull into a ball of dough.
- Using an 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper, press the dough from the middle and working towards the edges with your hands.
- Poke with a fork to avoid air bubbles.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, get ready to assemble the lemon-mango curd.
- Whisk together eggs, yolks, and sugar. Then add mango pulp, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until fully incorporated. Over low heat, constantly stir your liquid until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6-8 minutes. If you start to notice any clumps on the sides or coming up from the bottom remove from heat at once. Then strain the curd to remove the lemon zest. Add the butter in thin slices while the curd is still warm.
- Pour into the crust.
- Bake at 350°F or 175° C 10-15 minutes. The outer edges will be set, the inner will still jiggle slightly.
- Cool in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve chilled sprinkled with a healthy dose of powdered sugar and your favorite iced beverage (mmm…milk mustaches anyone?).