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June 26, 2014

mango vanilla pastry cups.

I had this one dessert the other day. Its simple novelty stuck with me.

It looked like a teeny layered parfait. The very small glass was half-filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, topped with tiny cubes of cake, strawberry pie filling and then sweetened whipped cream.

I loved how perfect it seemed for summer. An upcoming BBQ was the perfect excuse to recreate them myself.

I began, as a true science nerd person, by dissecting the components. The pastry cream could easily be made at home. I decided to forgo the whipped cream to keep the whole thing lighter. But the cake and the fruit - such possibility!

I used store-bought pound cake, with no qualms whatsoever. As a homemade touch, I toasted some slices with just a small amount of coconut oil for a more golden appearance and less fake flavor. Mango ended up being the fruit of choice - so in season and so delicious!

So how were these fancy little pastry cups made?

First the pastry cream was prepared, with whipped cream folded in for an even lighter texture.

Also, the toasted pound cake slices were chopped into teeny cubes.

Then the fun began! I really enjoy small bite-size versions of things, and to me, these pastry cups are a much more manageable version of cake, or a trifle.

Little pieces of pound cake get tossed in first.

Followed by some of the super creamy pastry cream. I dare you to go through this process without at least once "accidentally" getting some of this on your hand. Do you accept this challenge?

Some more cake cubes. Soooooo tiny, they were smaller than my thumb.

Fruit + more pastry cream. I made sure that the fruit was visible from the side of the cup, so it would look more layered. I could've done a better job with the layering image on the side, but let's be real: a fruity custardy mess enveloping cake cubes sounds just as good as a perfectly layered dessert.

These are perfect for a gathering or party, especially since every single component can be made ahead of time. The cups can be assembled on the morning of, to be served later in the evening. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Mango Vanilla Pastry Cups
yield: 15 small-medium servings, but it really all depends on how you divide it!

-- Pastry cream (recipe here) - MAKE FIRST so it has time to cool.
-- Pound cake, cut into teeny cubes (half a loaf was enough for me, for 15 small-medium servings) --- if desired, can toast pound cake on a pan with coconut oil for enhanced golden color & flavor.
-- Mango, chopped into tiny pieces roughly the same size as the pound cake (can use any fruit)
-- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)
-- raspberries, one per serving (optional)

Short version: Place in the following order - 
cake // pastry cream // cake // fruit // pastry cream // whipped cream and raspberry

  1. Lay out as many cups as you want to make.
  2. Cover bottom of cup with cake cubes.
  3. Spoon some pastry cream, enough to just barely cover, over the cake.
  4. Add 4-5 more cake cubes.
  5. Sprinkle with some fruit, making sure to concentrate fruit more along the edges of the cup, so that they show when looking at the cup from the side.
  6. Dollop more pastry cream. 
  7. Top with whipped cream, if desired. 
  8. Place a raspberry on top, for presentation.
  9. Store in fridge for up to 2 days. Pastry cream will soften the pound cake as time goes on.
  10. Optimally - serve within a few hours of making (so make in morning, to serve in evening). Enjoy!

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