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Mango Upside Down Cake…go South!

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Summer’s here.  We’ve put down our bourbons, pulled out the tequila and now our blenders are humming happily on our kitchen counter and poolside in our tiki huts.  Sunday nights find us with sunburned shoulders making lunches and gearing up to answer the 412 emails waiting for us at the office.  I’m already thinking, heck, dreaming of the weekend ahead.  I want pool time with my family and early morning workouts where I can marvel at creamy magnolias and gardenias with their thick, glossy leaves, brilliant bougainvillea and tropical orchids seemingly growing out of palm trees.

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And although my clothes are sodden with perspiration 15 seconds into the workout, the damp sheen on my skin gives me perverse pleasure.  I want plenty of local fish and vegetables on the grill, the soft “plop-plop” of flip-flops slapping my floors.  Weekdays I take advantage of two major sales at our grocery stores… mangoes and Haas avocados are in season and dirt cheap.  In this house, avocados are eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Sliced and on the side, in salads, stuffed or made into guac, we love ’em.  Mangoes, too.  In salads, blender drinks or salsas,  but especially in this summer favorite… warm Mango Coconut Upside Down Cake served with vanilla ice cream slowly puddling in the bowl.

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My family loves this cake.  Loves it.  I’ve had to bake it three times for this post as the first two times the cake was eaten before I had a chance to take some pics.  My boys had had a couple of long, stressful days and this was their reward for persevering.  I added a bit of good rum to the butter brown sugar which intensified the caramel overtones and depth of the syrup.  The alcohol burns off but know the rum is optional.  The recipe calls for creamed coconut, a product found in the international aisle of your grocery store.  The texture of the creamed coconut is that of hard wax.  When ready to use, it is melted stove top with the coconut milk.  Creamed coconut is unsweetened, has tee-tiny bits of coconut meat and adds a richness to foods that is unparalleled.  I keep a box or two in my pantry and boost the flavor of soups and curries with it.  Within the small box, the creamed coconut is in a cryovac bag so it keeps fresh for a good amount of time.  You won’t really notice a coconut taste in the cake but rather a creamy, richness.

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This Mango Upside Down Cake shines with a fat dollop of freshly whipped cream atop or a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream speckled with vanilla beans.  I have found, though, that this cake is at it’s best when served warm.  If it is baked in a 10″ skillet, the pan must  have at least 3″ sides to avoid spill over.  A nonstick pan is fine, however, I don’t recommend cast iron as the rum and/or mangos may react to the metal.

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