I felt a bit motherly this week. No, I have not been sewing together any princess costumes, but I was asked to bake a cake as a prize for a Halloween costume contest at B's work. I really thought you had to have kids before you were asked to do things like this, but I guess all you really need is a husband (or wife). And, I guess it doesn't help that I often send him tottering out the door balancing his briefcase in one hand and a foil wrapped cake of some sort (a yield from the baking blog) in his other. I have even been accused of yelling after him down the hall of our apartment building to remind him to tell people that there are nuts in the brownies.
I wanted to give some attempt at being festive for this "Halloween Cake", but since the contest is outside and it is still roughly 90F here, I was not about to make anything chocolate that would become a melted drippy mess before it could be won. And, I really can't stand eyeball cupcakes or anything dyed monster green. In fact, I am really not big on Halloween all together. (*gasp*) I am really sorry to those of you that absolutely live for it (i.e. my other half)!
...let me just explain.
As an oh-so impressionable kid, I went to my first and last Halloween party. The parents running this party were absolutely mad about the holiday and so had the entire house really decked out in décor. The entire house smelled of fake blood and plastic, exactly like a Halloween costume store! Great, right?! No wrong.
As I went up to the buffet table to get some much anticipated food, I could not help but notice the extremely lifelike, beating human heart in the middle of the platter of freshly grilled and juicy burgers. Seriously?? There it was, all slimy and red! Just pounding away, next to what was going to be my hot and delicious burger! Is this supposed to make eating more fun?? Like "oh hahah a beating heart with that cute fake blood! That is so funny that I am now even more hungry for my burger...oh yum, hehee!" ?? umm, No.
For a good two minutes I looked back and forth at the platter (that wobbled a little with every beat), and then at my potential burger, but the smell of fake blood and plastic in the air became overwhelming and I had to walk away. From that point on, I began to lose my interest in Halloween.
And... to this day, there is still something about that fake smell of Halloween that is just a bit nauseating. On a side note, I just don't get Candy Corns either. Am I the only person on the planet that would rather burn them than eat them? Ok, ok, I should not be so brutal. I do love the smell of Jack-o-lanterns glowing in the night air.
What better festively orange ingredient in this heat than Mangos?! And at the same time how completely unHalloween. The butter and brown sugar caramelizes the chunks of mango as it bakes, leaving the cake fluffy inside and crispy and browned on the exterior. This version requests whipped egg whites to make the batter light....which I did really easily in my sleek new Elekta mixer!
For those of us with no little-ones to take through the neighborhood in search of such aforementioned candy (which I think is the only reason that a few of you had kids); and for those of us who are tired of the usual club/bar where you will drink an orange and black martini made of who knows what, we might just stay home, prop up our feet, and eat Mango upside-down cake this year.
Oh yes, and the contest winner was a Zombie Pharaoh. Well, he was meant to be only a Pharaoh, (dressed in a really nice shiny black and gold headpiece, and all), but he sprained both of his ankles playing football the day before. So, he was dressed like a Pharaoh, but couldn't move his ankles or knees when he walked...so everyone just renamed him the Zombie Pharaoh.
Mango Upside Down Cake (Adapted from Gourmet Magazine)
1 cup firm-ripe mangoes, peeled
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
For cake batter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, 2 of them separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mango nectar (or puree thinned with a little water)
Cut mango into small thin chunks or slices.
Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan (I used cast iron) over moderate heat, then stir in brown sugar, until butter is incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread mixture in bottom of a buttered 9- by 2-inch round baking pan and arrange mango on top.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add whole egg and yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in vanilla. Add half of flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined. Mix in mango nectar, then add remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Beat egg whites in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they just hold stiff peaks, then fold into batter gently but thoroughly.
Gently spoon batter over mango topping and spread evenly. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, roughly 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around inside edge of pan, then invert a plate over pan and invert cake onto plate. Cool completely on plate on rack.