The mangonada — slushy mango ice, sour-spicy chamoy sauce, chunks of ripe mango, all layered together in a cup, sprinkled liberally with chile-lime salt and stabbed with a tamarind straw — is one of several fruit-and-candy drink concoctions sold in Latino communities as a treat to cool off in the heat of summer. It was my inspiration for these dessert bars.
The filling is tangy from chamoy, the apricot-based fruit sauce, and fruity from floral ripe mango, and is set atop a pleasantly spicy Tajin-flecked cookie crust.
Serve these bars chilled from the fridge at your next backyard picnic or barbecue. The spice will make you sweat, the fruit will cool you off and you’ll quickly go back for more because you’ll discover it’s the ideal treat to eat when it’s 90 degrees and your clothes are stuck to your skin.
45 minutes, plus 5 hours chilling. Makes 24.
Both Tajin, a brand of chile-lime seasoning, and chamoy, a general term for the sour-sweet fruit sauce, are essential to making mangonadas, and thus, these bars. You can find both at Latino grocery stores or online. I use fresh, ripe mangoes here, but they aren’t always available or consistent, whereas frozen ones are. If you use frozen mango, buy enough for the 2 pounds used in the filling plus an extra 8 ounces for the 1 cup that you will sprinkle over the top of the bars, and make sure to let it thaw completely before using so it blends easily with the other filling ingredients.
- 1 box (11 ounces) vanilla wafer cookies, finely ground (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons Tajin chile-lime seasoning, plus more (see note above)
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 3 packages (1/4-ounce each) unflavored powdered gelatin
- 6 medium ripe mangoes (see note above)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chamoy sauce (see note above)
1 Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with straight sides, line the bottom and two long sides with a sheet of parchment paper, allowing at least 1 inch of overhang on each side (this will help in removing the bars from the pan).
2 In a large bowl, toss the cookie crumbs with the butter and Tajin until the texture of wet sand. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly into the bottom (not up the sides) of the pan. Bake the crust until lightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a rack.
3 In a small skillet or microwave-safe bowl, combine the orange juice with the 2 packages gelatin; set aside to allow the gelatin to bloom in the juice, at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and core all the mangoes. Weigh out 2 pounds mango flesh, then roughly chop it and add it to a blender. Finely dice enough of the remaining mango to fill 1 cup; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you have any leftover mango flesh (depending on the size), save it for another use.
4 Gently warm and stir the orange juice and gelatin mixture in the skillet (or microwave it in the bowl) until the gelatin dissolves. Pour the juice-gelatin mixture into the blender with the roughly chopped mango. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt, and puree on high until very smooth, at least 1 minute. Pour the mango filling into the cooled crust and spread it into an even layer with a rubber spatula.
5 Pour the chamoy sauce into the skillet (or microwave-safe bowl) and stir in the remaining 1 package gelatin. Let stand for 5 minutes to bloom the gelatin, then heat it gently, stirring, until the gelatin dissolves. Pour the chamoy into a liquid measuring cup and let it cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle the chamoy decoratively over the mango filling then refrigerate the pan until the filling is partially set, about 1 hour.
6 Sprinkle the reserved finely diced mango over the filling, then refrigerate until the bars are completely set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
7 Using the parchment paper overhang, lift the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 24 small squares and sprinkle with more Tajin on top. Serve chilled.