So, have you eaten much papaya? I know I haven’t. I didn’t really even know that much about it, until now! I saw a post on the incredible Domesblissity back in April & it got me thinking about how I use different fruits in my cooking. It also piqued my interest when the creator, Anne, mentioned the chance of winning a $250 Woolworths voucher for submitting a recipe using papaya to her site thanks to Papaya Australia. For my little brood, that would be a lovely addition to the cookie jar!
Admittedly I am not usually the entering type, I get nervous about putting myself out there, I still hesitate before hitting ‘Publish’ on every blog post. “Who is going to care about what you cook or have to say”, is the thought that always goes through my head. But, then I remember this internet space is for me, to create, express & record things that matter to me. If what I share resonates with someone else, then that’s a wonderful bonus, but not the main reason I am here. Besides, simply, as the saying goes, “you’ve got to be in to win it”, right, so I decided this was a challenge & a chance I wanted to take.
As I mentioned, I didn’t know much about papaya – being from the southern end of Australia, they don’t grow well here, nor do you see them around much when in season, (unfortunately as it turns out), but now I have played around with them, I will make more of an effort to seek them out & use them from here on in.
The ones I found were the Red Papaya – gorgeous colour, fleshy texture like pumpkin & loaded with moisture. They cube easily – similar to avocado & make a great addition to both sweet & savoury dishes.
Not only that, but according to Domesblissity, via Papaya Australia, they are super healthy too – see below*;
- Just one average slice (150g) provides more than twice your daily requirement for vitamin C, plus vitamin A (essential for good growth and vision), calcium, iron, carbohydrates and a wealth of protective antioxidant carotenoids.
- Low in sodium and kilojoules, the fruit is also fat free.
- It has a lower glycemic index for longer lasting energy.
- Including red papaya and yellow papaw in your diet can add a valuable source of fibre. Fibre helps keep you regular.
- Contains papain, a natural enzyme that helps with the break down of proteins.
- The soft texture of the fruit and its rich quantity of vitamin C makes red papaya and yellow papaw ideal first fruits for babies.
- Green red papaya or yellow papaw is excellent as a meat tenderiser. Due to its digestive enzyme that breaks down the meat and tenderises it.
- Green papaya or yellow papaw are often eaten as a vegetable in savoury dishes like Asian salads .
- In the West Indies, young red papaya and yellow papaw leaves are also cooked and eaten like spinach.
- If you come across red papaya or yellow papaw leaves (important that they are chemical free) they can be used as a refreshing tea. Chop up three leaves and cook in one litre of water. Simmer until the water is reduced to half, strain and store in the refrigerator. For preventative measures it is used much the same way that the Japanese drink green tea.
Pretty impressive resume, huh?! So much nutrition, so versatile, I just knew I had to cook with it!
Recently, I have experimented with making a salted caramel sauce using my favourite new pantry item – coconut sugar. I love the stuff! You can use it, like papaya, in a variety of ways in both sweet & savoury recipes & in place of more refined sugar products as a healthier substitute. One recipe it works superbly in, making it taste absolutely divinely more-ish, is caramel! Mixed with a little maple syrup, coconut cream & butter it is the bomb – seriously! You can make it thick & sticky like toffee, or thin it down to make a sauce, just by adding more or less coconut cream. It is rich & the flavour bursts onto your taste buds with a punch of sweet & salty smoothness that’ll make you involuntarily close your eyes and moan with joy as it melts in your mouth. Almost sounds a bit naughty I know – but if you are a caramel lover, you need to make this … REALLY, you do!
When I saw this competition, I had a light bulb moment. In this moment, it struck me, that I could combine these two foods & make something very special! Papaya & coconut, both tropical, both delicious, combined in an old favourite yoghurt muffin – a winner in the making for sure! (And here’s hoping!!) 🙂
After a few experiments, papaya mashed through, caramel frozen & placed in the middle, papaya mixed in with the caramel, I still wasn’t satisfied – it was slightly lacking in the flavour I wanted. One day while mixing a(nother) batch of caramel – the song lyrics, “she put the lime in the coconut” were bouncing around in my head – that’s the only part I knew / know of it – but it left me thinking, why don’t I do just that! So, I put lime in the papaya & added the zest to the muffin & BAM – it all came together & tasted great! Topped with some salted coconut caramel & toasted coconut & it tasted A-MAZ-ing! (imagine me as I do my happy dance, singing the above lyrics in a deep, badly executed Jamaican accent … yep, pretty sad & hilarious!)
Anyway … that embarrassing vision aside, here’s how it goes;
- Salted Coconut Sugar Caramel
- (Makes about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar - (or white sugar)
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup - (omit if using white sugar)
- 60gm unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons full fat coconut cream - (or pure dairy cream) - don't overdo this, the more cream, then runnier the caramel.
- A big pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
- 3/4 cup plain white flour
- 1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- A big pinch sea salt
- 1 cup full fat Greek-style yogurt - room temperature
- 1/3 cup brown sugar - (I used Rapadura)
- 1 large egg - room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded coconut - 3/4 cup for muffin batter & 1/4 cup to toast & top
- 1/2 ripe papaya diced into approximately 2cm cubes
- 1/2 lime - juice & rind
- Salted Caramel
- Place baking paper over a medium-sized plate.
- Lightly coat the baking paper with a spray oil.
- Using a medium saucepan, mix the coconut sugar & maple syrup over medium high heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from heat & add butter - whisk well to combine.
- Add coconut cream & salt, return to heat.
- Bring mix back to simmer & allow to bubble for about 5 minutes, until it is a shade darker & reduced to about 1 cup liquid - (it should be quite sticky - but not toffee like).
- Pour bubbling caramel onto baking paper covered plate & then allow to set - (this is best achieved by placing it in the freezer for at least 40 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.
- Place 1/4 cup shredded coconut on a small baking tray & toast in over for about 10 minutes or until golden.
- Either grease 10 muffin cups with coconut oil, or line them with patty pans or similar.
- Scoop out the seeds & dice the papaya - place in a small bowl.
- Zest lime (a microplane is best) & cover papaya in lime juice.
- Using a small saucepan, over low heat, warm your coconut oil until it just melts - immediately remove from heat.
- Using a medium bowl, sift flours, baking powder and salt.
- Add 3/4 cup shredded coconut & lime zest, gently combine.
- Using a small bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, coconut oil, yogurt and vanilla until well combined.
- Add wet mix into dry ingredients & fold until just combined.
- Using a warm spoon, fill muffin cup about 1/4 to 1/2 full, then gently press a piece of lime soaked papaya into batter.
- Cover papaya with more batter to almost fill patty pan.
- Repeat with each muffin - mine filled 9 muffin cups, so start with that & if you have leftovers, make more accordingly.
- Bake for approximately 15 - 20 minutes, until slightly browned.
- Leave in muffin tray for about 5 minutes, then place on wire rack.
- Finally, the crowning glory;
- Remove caramel from freezer & defrost - say about 15 minutes - (it should be sticky / runny & thick like honey).
- Place caramel into a piping bag with small round nozzle, or fold baking paper into a funnel & snip small hole at the pointy end to allow caramel to flow.
- Pierce a small hole in the top of the muffin, either with the piping nozzle or knife.
- Squeeze a small amount of caramel into muffin, then pipe another small amount over the top - (it will run, so don't go overboard, about a teaspoon's worth will do it.
- Top each one with a sprinkle of toasted shredded coconut.
- Store in air tight container & refrigerate for up to 5 days - if they last that long!
- These can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
So that’s it, my competition recipe using papaya. I became so enamoured with this fruit that I have used it in other dishes, one a particularly tasty chicken & soba noodle salad that I aim to share after a little more tweaking.
I hope you like these flavoursome, healthy muffins just as much as we do!
Ooo … also, come closer, so I can whisper. That’s it … just quietly, so the kids don’t hear … they are particularly scrumptious heated up – about 20 seconds on HIGH in the microwave – & served with ice cream for an ‘adults only’ evening supper! All runny caramel, soft sweet papaya & zingy lime … now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! But shhh, that’s our little secret. 😉
Oh, also, wish me luck at winning that voucher!
UPDATE – July 2013 – I won, I won, I won!!! Thanks Papaya Australia & Domesblissity!!
What’s you favourite fruit filled recipe? Have you challenged yourself to cook with something different lately? I’d love to hear about it!
Cook! Eat! Enjoy!