For most of us, most of the time, papaya hardly seems like a "frugal" ingredient. However, some time ago, a local grocery had some large papayas at a very good price. Remembering the wonderful fruits I was able to enjoy when visiting my kids in their South Pacific home, I couldn't resist and bought one.
It was good but there was much more fruit than I could possibly use up quickly. Checking the internet, I learned that papaya was easily frozen, so into the freezer it went.
Fast forward a few months, and I was looking through the freezer to see what needed to be used up. There were a couple of those papaya packages, just waiting for...something. I was also trying to come up with a different dessert for some friends, so I started doing more internet research. A little experimentation and combining of some of the things I found, and here is the result.
Is this really a "frugal" choice? The original cost of the papaya was less than 60 cents a pound, and the rest of the ingredients are typical of any cake, so this barely fits the category. (I think it probably would not be nearly as good with anything but butter for the fat, so that admittedly increases the cost) Since the cake has a rich flavor, it can be cut into relatively small pieces, reducing the cost per serving. Finally, it provides one more option to use up extra papaya pulp if you succumb to the temptation of buying a large one. This summer, I think I shall try this with peaches or nectarines when they are in good supply, as the caramelization seems like it would be a great way to prepare these as well.
Papaya Coconut Cake
1 c papaya, chopped finely or mashed
1 t butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t rum extract (optional)
1 T finely grated orange peel
1/2 c plain low fat (preferably not nonfat) yogurt
2 c flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t soda
1 t ground ginger
1/2 c coconut
1. Melt the teaspoon of butter with the brown sugar in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Stir in the papaya, including any juices that have formed as you mash or chop it. Continue to cook until the mixture is well caramelized, the papaya is softened, and the liquid has been absorbed, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
2. Cut the butter into about tablespoon chunks and put in the processor with the sugar, eggs, orange peel, and flavorings. Process until well-creamed, pulsing as necessary to develop a light mixture.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add half the flour and half the yogurt to the mixture in the processor and pulse just enough to mix, stirring the batter down from the sides once or twice. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and yogurt and process until just mixed--do not overbeat.
4. Fold in the coconut manually and then turn the batter into a well-oiled 9 X 12 pan. Bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Frost with a simple cream cheese or a "browned butter" frosting (recipe follows). Sprinkle with more coconut and/or with walnuts if desired.
Browned Butter Frosting
2 T butter
1 t rum flavoring
2 to 3 c powdered sugar
app 1/4 c milk
2. Stir 2 cups of the powdered sugar into the pan with the butter and add the rum flavoring and a tablespoon or so of milk. Beat well, adding a little powdered sugar and then milk as needed to reach spreading consistency.
3. Spread as quickly as possible. The frosting will thicken as it cools, so you will find it much easier to work with right away.