When I recounted my experience judging the Mango Hometown Tour Charlotte event a few weeks ago to my wife she was intrigued by the vanilla mango butter that Chef Tom Condron served with his winning dish. Having tasted it and knowing how good it was, I set out on a mission to replicate it for her.
After picking up a bunch of mangoes at the local market I began to do some research. I figured that it would be very similar in nature to apple butter, so after reviewing a half dozen recipes online I made some notes and got to work.
For the first batch I decided that I wanted to use honey as a sweetener rather than sugar and, for reasons unknown, I decided to throw some cinnamon in the mix. After about ten hours of cooking, I pureed the mixture, strained it and gave it a try. It was good, but not nearly what I expected. The cinnamon was a horrible idea and the honey really overpowered things.
My second attempt was even less successful as I made a smaller batch and didn’t account for the difference in volume in the cooking time. As a result I caramelized the sugar to the point that when the purported vanilla mango butter was cold it tasted more like plum than mango. Needless to say this batch was nothing like I had intended. To top things off, a few days later I had a kitchen mishap that cost my slow cooker its life.
Finally, the third time was the charm when I made a batch that was perfect in both color and flavor. Using just pure cane sugar, vanilla bean paste, a pinch of sea salt and a dozen mangoes I cooked this batch on low heat in my cast iron dutch oven for roughly eight hours.
If I had to critique the third batch I wish I had cooked it at a slightly higher temperature, as it did not reduce as much as I would have liked. However, I was very concerned about caramelized the sugars again and turning the vanilla mango butter from a bright yellow to a dark brown color.
Once I was done experimenting I had to figure out what to do with everything I had made. Obviously, canning was going to be the best way to preserve the various batches and I ended up finding a great tutorial on canning over on Southern Plate that helped me get it all done relatively easily.
After all the trial and error had concluded what remained was a delicious substance that was great in both sweet and savory applications.
Vanilla Mango Butter
2 cups cane sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
- Cook in a cast iron dutch oven at 180 degrees to 7 to 8 hours
- Puree with an immersion (stick) blender or allow to cool and transfer in batches to a blender
- Run puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps and fibers from the mango
- Return puree to dutch oven and cook at 280 degrees uncovered to 1 to 2 hours
Makes approximately ten to twelve 8 ounce jars of sauce