Coconut-cream flakes with toffeed mango

Coconut-cream flakes with toffeed mango

Mark Roper

Many Iranian pastry shops offer a pastry selection that is distinctly French, and reflects the European influence on the country in the early nineteenth century. Profiteroles, roulades and mille-feuilles (or Napoleons) sit happily alongside Persian baklava, and are all hugely popular. Napoleons, known in Iran as cream flakes, are so highly regarded that we felt we just had to include a recipe. I’ve given them a tropical tweak, reflecting the sweet perfumed mangoes and coconuts that appear in markets around the Persian Gulf.

Just remember that the components for this special dessert need to be cool before you start assembling the flakes. The flakes, coconut cream and toffeed mango can all be prepared in advance – the filo-pastry flakes can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container – which makes serving a breeze.

Coconut flakes


Quantity Ingredient
50g desiccated coconut
8 sheets filo pastry
100g clarified butter or ghee
50g icing sugar

Coconut cream filling

Quantity Ingredient
180ml thickened cream
180ml coconut cream
60g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon coconut rum, (optional)

Toffeed mango

Quantity Ingredient
3 mangoes
60g unsalted butter
90g soft brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Blitz the coconut to a coarse powder in a food processor. Arrange a sheet of filo pastry on your work surface and brush it liberally with clarified butter and dust with icing sugar. Top with another 3 filo sheets, brushing and dusting with butter and sugar as you go. On the fourth and final sheet, sprinkle an even layer of coconut powder over the surface, being sure to cover it completely. Fold the filo in half lengthwise and use a 10 cm pastry cutter to cut out 6 rounds. Carefully lift the rounds onto the prepared baking tray. Repeat with the remaining 4 filo sheets, butter, icing sugar and coconut powder.
  3. Place a sheet of baking paper on top of the 12 pastry rounds (these are the flakes), then cover with another baking tray to weigh the pastry down. Bake for 8–10 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully check after 8 minutes – the flakes may be ready. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before lifting away the top tray. Lift the flakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the coconut cream filling, combine thickened and coconut cream with the desiccated coconut and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour. Strain into the bowl of an electric mixer, squeezing the coconut to extract as much flavour as you can, then cover and chill. Stir the coconut rum, if using, into the chilled cream, then whisk to soft peaks.
  5. To make the toffeed mango, cut the cheeks from the mangoes. Cut each cheek lengthwise into 3 wedges and carefully slice the flesh away from the skin. Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and add the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat, then add the mango and fry until it begins to turn golden brown and caramelises. Add the citrus juices and vanilla extract, then tip the toffeed mango into a bowl and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. To assemble the coconut flakes, place a filo flake on each plate and top with a generous spoonful of coconut cream, followed by 3 mango wedges. Place another filo flake on top and drizzle with some of the mango caramel. Serve straight away.
Middle Eastern
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