Mango Memories


One of my favorite treats to get while I was in Hong Kong was a cold mango drink from Hui Lau San. I particularly gravitated towards a concoction of mango juice mixed with coconut milk, tapioca balls and chunks of fresh mango – rich and refreshing tropical bliss.

I decided to create a dessert version of that drink when I returned home, and here’s the result: a parfait made of layers of mango cubes, rich coconut pastry cream, soft mango mousse, and a sprinkling of tapioca on top, like a dash of caviar.

Unfortunately the coconut pastry cream didn’t come out as white as I’d hoped due to the eggs in the recipe; although I lightened it with a bit of whipped cream the resulting hue is still fairly close to the color of the mango mousse. I didn’t get the tri-color layering that I wanted – but the flavors are still a sensual combination of creamy, fruity, velvety, chewy, fluffy: a sweet memory of Hong Kong.


It’s hard for me to imagine anyone not loving the mango, which embodies all the honeyed, voluptuous charms tropical fruits possess, from the rainbow-hued skin to its florid scent. Consuming a burstingly ripe mango by hand on a warm summer’s day is a gloriously heady exercise. Most likely mangoes will still be firm and unripe when you purchase them; let them sit in a paper bag for a few days until the flesh yields slightly under light pressure, and the fruit smells wonderfully sweet.

Of course, mangoes are also known for that annoyingly large pit in the center. I used to have to practice slicing and scoring halves off of mangoes to make those pretty "blossoms" to decorate fruit tarts; now I discover there’s a handy pitter that’s been invented to easily separate the mango flesh from the pit. Does it work? I don’t know, but it could be worth a try!

The sweet fruitiness of the mango makes a lovely partner to the lush creaminess of coconut. Using coconut milk in place of dairy milk to make pastry cream results in an even richer, thicker product; sinfully velvety on the tongue and a perfect foil to the airiness of the mango mousse.

The chilly winds of winter are still blowing here, but a bite of this dessert and I can almost feel the sunshine coming through the clouds.


Mango Coconut Parfait

makes about 6-8 servings

Coconut Pastry Cream

1 cup (218 g) coconut milk

2 Tablespoons (30 g) + 3 Tablespoons (44 g) sugar

3 egg yolks

2 Tablespoons (14 g) cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup heavy cream

Fresh Mango and Mango Mousse

3 ripe mangos (about 600 g total)

1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar (plus more to taste)

1 cup heavy cream

To make the pastry cream, combine 3/4 cup (172g) of the coconut milk with 2 Tablespoons (30g) of sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on the stove over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and bubbles appear on the edge of the pan.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and 3 Tablespoons (44g) sugar in a bowl.

Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup (46g) coconut milk in a small bowl and then add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking to combine.

Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Stir in the vanilla.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface, and refrigerate until needed.

When you are ready to use the pastry cream, whip the cream in a mixer to soft peaks, and then fold gently into the pastry cream to lighten.

To prepare the bottom mango layer, peel the mangos and slice away the flesh from the pit. Cut the flesh into small cubes – you will need about 300g total. Save the rest of the mangoes for the mousse.

Puree about 100 g of the mango cubes with 1/4 cup (or more to taste) of sugar until smooth.

Combine the mango cubes with the puree and pour into individual serving glasses to make the first layer.

Top the mango layer with a layer of the coconut pastry cream. Refrigerate while you are making the mango mousse.

To make the mango mousse, puree the remaining mango flesh with about 1/4 cup (or more to taste) of sugar until smooth.

Place about a third of the puree in a saucepan with the gelatin and heat on low heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin is melted.

Pour the warm puree out into the rest of the puree and let it cool slightly until it thickens a bit, but don’t let the gelatin solidify.

Whip the cream in a mixer bowl until it holds soft peaks.

Carefully fold the whipped cream into the mango puree until it is combined. Divide it among the serving glasses. Refrigerate overnight to let the mousse set.

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Bite This!


  1. 1


    I can see all three layers. It’s lovely.
    I can’t drink any of those drinks with tapioca in them…it’s a texture thing. But I would gladly eat this!

  2. 2


    Imagien me loving mangoes – and coconuts and going crazy or this dessert. I looks delish so stop complaining about the whiteness of this or that! LOL! Seriously though, I can understand! LOL!

  3. 4


    I’m not a fan of mangoes, but I am a fan of coconut and I believe the combination is a hit. I especially like the pastry cream – should try that!

  4. 5


    This looks and sounds so good. I bet that pastry cream was really tasty. And I love your little glasses!

  5. 9


    My kids would love this dessert — What’s the difficulty score? I admit it looks a little complicated.

  6. 13


    your mango mousse just brought me down memory lane! i remember the first time i tried to make mousse, it was mango mousse for a caribbean theme party for my college roommates…don’t really remember if it turned out, but yours looks fantastic! and coconut pastry cream…swoon!

  7. 14


    We share the same brain today: I just made a layered tapioco cream with peaches and toasted almonds…Must be something in the air. Your dessert is so delicate and I love the idea of a coconut pastry cream!

  8. 15

    pumpkinpie says

    I work right across the street from a Hui Lau San. How can I concentrate? It is my proverbial carrot for showing up to work. Try the mango, mango sorbet, coconut milk, and glutinous rice balls next time you are in town. You can make the glutinous rice balls at home if you have an Asian grocery that sells the flour.

  9. 16


    this sounds divine! i never properly appreciated the mango until moving to australia. i buy them all the time here though and am a complete fan now. especially with coconut pastry cream…mmmm.

  10. 17


    Oh jeez, that looks amazing. I’ve recently found for my love for the combination of mango and coconut. I love ordering mango with sweet sticky rice (flavored with coconut milk) at Thai restaurants! So delicious.

  11. 18


    Thanks! I admit those tapioca drinks seem to be a love/hate thing. I usually get them without the tapioca now!

    I can imagine you loving the combination! It’s always so tropical to me!

    Thank you! Combined with the warm weather in HK, it did feel very spring-y!

    Thank you! The coconut pastry cream is great on its own and I can imagine it going in lots of other desserts!

    Thank you! Actually I kept eating spoonfuls of the pastry cream before I put the dessert together!

    Yes, summer and mangoes! HK’s so lucky to get good mangoes year round!

    Thanks! Yes, it’s much harder to find good mangoes over here too than in Asia!

    hurray for another mango convert! I just adore them!

    There are several steps but I don’t think it’s that hard. The pastry cream is the most complicated but otherwise you can make it pretty quickly!

    Aww, thanks! I admit I want to eat this like a yogurt and skip dinner too!

    Thank you! Ripe mangoes are such fun to eat!

    Thank you! I always associate HK with Hui Lau San and mango mania:)

    That sounds like so much fun! Mango and coconut are such a classic together!

    Mmm, it must be something in the air…all these delicious desserts!

    how lucky for you to live so near one…I would be there every day too!

    thank you! I know, sometimes I wished I lived where mangoes were easier to get:)

    That’s a great dessert too! I need to try making the sticky rice sometime!

  12. 20


    Mango is definitely my favourite, and I think nothing beats the mango treats available in HK. There’s even a hotel that used to offer a Mango-themed dessert buffet!

  13. 22


    20+ comments before me and not one mention of the mango pitter. Amazing.

    So I’ll tell you that yes, that mango pitter works great! I have one and extracting the pit from a mango has never been easier.

    And I love mangoes, your mango coconut parfait sounds fantastic!

  14. 23


    I did not have much time for visiting for a while but kept updated with your adventures via the feed that I subscribed to. I particularly like this recipe because I am a massive fan of mangoes and have never tired a combination like the one you describe. Must take note.

  15. 24


    I love anything Mango..well almost.
    I hate most things coconut, unless it’s eating those chunks they sell on Paris street corners. Still I’m sure this would be divine no matter what!

  16. 25

    Lynx says

    Tried this last night and it was a success. With the mangoes in season the three layers of color were very distinct. Very tasty!


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