Mango & Rice Tart from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri

I don’t write posts in which I adapt a recipe from a cookbook very often. And when I do, it’s because the recipe is so great that I have to share with you all lest, to use a Thai expression, I die from my chest bursting open (อกแตกตาย). Hyperbole aside, this mango and rice tart recipe from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri, arguably one of America’s most respected baking authorities, has been made several times in my kitchen. The recipe is absolutely perfect and, with such thorough and precise instructions (which can always be expected from this author), the result is foolproof.

The Modern Baker, first published in 2008, is now available in paperback edition. If you don’t have it, please get one. I have so many cookbooks in my library from which I’ve never cooked. This is definitely not one of them. You can tell just by looking at my copy: lots of butter stains and notes scribbled all over the margins (gosh, I’ve turned into my mother …).

Intrigued by this delicious and creative tart that is a Western way of presenting the iconic Thai dessert, Khao Niao Mamuang (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง) or Thai coconut sticky rice and mango (albeit with jasmine rice instead of sticky rice which works very well in this recipe), I reached out to Nick for an interview.

Your first trip to Thailand was in May (2006) which is one of the best months of the year fruit-wise. How would you describe that experience?

It was exciting and enlightening. Tasting Thai food on site and experiencing how the hot, sour, salty, sweet, and bitter flavors are blended together makes it easier to understand how to prepare and season it outside Thailand.

In your own words, you “became absolutely crazy about every kind of Thai food” [1] since that trip, and started preparing it a lot at home. Also, Thailand has ever since become — as you’ve mentioned on your website — one of your favorite places to visit. How has this recent exposure to Thai cuisine in the motherland added to your pastry repertoire? Will we see more Thai-inspired recipes in your future books?

I’ve done some research into Thai desserts and published a few articles about them, but I haven’t concentrated solely on desserts.

How did you come up with Mango & Rice Tart? Am I right in thinking that this is a brilliant mash-up of Torta di Riso, the Italian sweet ricotta-rice tart, and Khao Niao Mamuang, Thai coconut sticky rice and mango?

Mango and Rice Tart has absolutely nothing to do with an Italian rice tart that has a baked rice custard filling. The filling of the mango and rice tart is an approximation of the classic Thai sweet of a sliced ripe mango with sweetened coconut sticky rice, but in a crust.

After having made the recipe a few times, I have come to the conclusion that the recipe is perfect as it is. However, it has been almost four years since the hardcover edition of The Modern Baker was released, and I’m wondering whether you have experimented with or thought of some other ways to add variety to it since then. If so, would you like to share them with us?

This recipe has not changed, but some printing mistakes in other recipes were corrected [in the paperback edition ~Leela].

Personally, when it comes to Khao Niao Mamuang, I adamantly refuse to use any types of mango available in North America other than Ataulfo. I’m wondering whether you feel strongly about what type of mango is best for this particular recipe. Also, during the time of year when mangoes are not at their best, are there ways to fix them before using them in this recipe?

While I’m not familiar with a lot of mango varieties by name, I always look for the flat, “slipper-shaped” yellow mangoes that are similar to the ones used in Thailand. Aside from their sweetness they’re also not fibrous like Indian mangoes. If all you can find is a large red and green Indian mango, just make sure it’s ripe and cut the flesh into very thin slices for the tart.

So there you have it, folks.

I’d like to thank Mr. Malgieri for answering my questions and allowing me to reprint the recipe from his book.

Ataulfo mangoes are in season in North America right now, and this is the only time of year when mango and sticky rice should be made, in my opinion. You guys in Thailand, ok rong and nam dok-mai will be absolutely perfect in this recipe.

Mango & Rice Tart
Recipe from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri
Reprinted with permission
Printable Version

Press-In Cookie Dough:
Makes one 10-inch or 11-inch (25- or 28-cm) tart crust

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
One 10- or 11-inch (25- or 28-cm) tart pan with removable bottom, buttered

  • Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle on medium speed until whitened, about 5 minutes. Beating the butter and sugar aerates the mixture, and the air helps the dough bake to a light texture.
  • Add the egg yolk and continue beating until it is absorbed and the mixture is smooth. Use a large rubber spatula to incorporate the flour.
  • Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and shape the dough into a rough cylinder. Press the dough into the pan. [2]
  • Cover the pan with plastic wrap or slice it into a plastic bag and seal securely. Refrigerate the formed crust for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  • About 20 minutes before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Use a fork to pierce the chilled tart crust at 1-inch (2 1/2-cm) intervals to keep it from puffing up and distorting while it’s baking.
  • Bake the tart shell until it is evenly golden, 20-25 minutes. Check occasionally after it has been baking for about 5 minutes. If large bubbles appear on the bottom of the crust, slide out the pan on the oven rack and quickly pierce the bubbles with a fork to flatten them. Cool the tart crust on a rack.

mango tart
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup Thai jasmine rice
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups Thai coconut cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 ripe medium mangoes, peeled, cut away from the seed, and neatly sliced

    • Bring the water to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the rice and stir once. Reduce the heat to medium-low (not the lowest setting), and cover the pan. Let the rice cook for 20 minutes.
    • While the rice is cooking, make a syrup from the sugar and water. Combine them in a small saucepan and set over low heat. Stir occasionally so that all the sugar dissolves. When the syrup comes to a boil, let it boil for 3 minutes, then scrape the syrup into a heat-proof bowl (if there are a few undissolved sugar crystals in the syrup it’s okay). Gently stir the coconut cream and salt into the syrup until smooth.
    • Scrape the hot rice into the sweetened coconut cream and use a large rubber spatula to gently mix them together. At this point, the mixture is very liquid. Leave the rice in the bowl, uncovered, until it is completely cooled and has absorbed most of the coconut cream, about 3 hours. Cover the bowl and let it sit at a cool room temperature.
    • When you are almost ready to serve the tart, scrape the coconut rice into the tart crust and spread it evenly with a small offset metal spatula. Arrange the mango slices over the rice in an overlapping concentric pattern, reserving a few of the smallest ones for the center of the tart.

[1] Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker(New York: DK Publishing, 2008), 170.
[2] Because of the presence of the sugar and egg, this dough sticks to itself easily, so some recipes call for the dough to be pressed into a pan rather than rolled out and then transferred to the pan. To press the dough into the pan, cut off about 1/3 of the dough and reserve it. Using the floured palm of your hand, press the larger piece of the dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Divide the remaining dough into 3 pieces and roll each into a cylinder about 10 inches (25 cm) long.Arrange the 3 cylinders of dough against the inside of the pan, slightly overlapping where they meet, to form the rim of the tart. Using floured fingertips, press the dough against the side of the pan, making sure it is well joined to the dough in the bottom of the pan. Use your thumbs, held perpendicular to the pan, to press the dough against the side of the pan. Make sure the dough on the side of the pan is even in thickness — if it is thinner at the top where the heat is strongest, the edges will burn while it’s baking.

Finally, using your thumb inside the pan and your forefinger on the rim, press in and down at the same time to make the top edge of the crust straight and even. (Rolling & Forming Tart and Pie Crusts from Sweet Tart Dough, The Modern Baker, p. 161)


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