I had never eaten papaya prior to studying in Costa Rica but I quickly grew to like it, even with its slightly strange taste and seeds that resemble caviar.
When searching for a dessert to accompany this week’s food travels to South Africa, I found ovos moles de papaia (papaya and egg yolk pudding), a recipe from the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique. Although a cold pudding seemed like an odd thing to make seeing as how highs over the weekend were only in the 50s accompanied by continuous rain, I made it anyway and really enjoyed it.
5 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
2 or 3 lemons or limes
¼ cup water
4 cloves whole
3 inch piece of stick cinnamon
Squeeze the lemons or limes to obtain ¼ cup of strained juice.
Using a very fine rasp rub the lemon/lime peel to obtain ½ tsp of zest.
Scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula. Repeat the blending process until the mixture is smoothly pureed.
Using the back of a table or dessert spoon, rub the puree through a fine sieve into a 2 or 3 quart stainless steel or enameled pan.
Add the sugar, mixing well to ensure even distribution. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick.
Stir constantly while bringing to the boil over high heat.
Cook until a few drops of the mixture immediately form coarse threads when dropped from a spoon into cold water. (The mixture needs to be stirred regularly, until this point is reached.)
Remove the pan from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, remove the cloves and cinnamon stick. Discard the cloves and cinnamon stick.
Using a wire whisk, or electric beater if preferred, beat the egg yolks vigorously, in a deep heat proof, bowl, for about a minute, until the yolks thicken slightly.
Pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks in a thin stream, beating constantly and vigorously while doing so.
Continue to beat the mixture until it is smooth and thick. It should now be a deep bright yellow in color.
The mixture should be divided into 4 individual heat proof dessert dishes and left to cool to room temperature. The dessert will continue to thicken while it cools.
The dish should be served immediately it reaches room temperature, or alternatively it may be completely chilled in a refrigerator before serving.
The lemon/lime zest may be sprinkled on top of the dessert before serving.