Back when I was surfing the net, trying to find uses for my giant can of custard powder, I happened upon a bunch of lovely Indian cooking blogs. It seems that there are a lot of varieties of custard powder over there and they make their way into all sorts of baked goods, such as cookies and cakes. Another ingredient that kept showing up on the Indian cooking blogs was a mysterious one called tutti frutti.
I think I first saw tutti frutti as an ingredient sprinkled liberally on top of a loaf cake. The name “tutti frutti” made me think at first that it must be a brand of candy, and it was so colourful it did look a little like it could have been finely chopped gumdrops. But when it started to show up in fruitcake recipes, I thought that tutti frutti must be glace fruit, those little colourful bits of cherries and citron peels that sometimes make their way into North American baking.
I was wrong on both counts. Tutti frutti, it turns out, is dried papaya.
I’ve never baked with dried papaya before. My only previous experience with it was as the tiny bits of ultra-sweet papaya that are sometimes found in trail mixes. I remember loving it but only in small amounts since it was too sweet even for my taste buds – which is saying a lot, since generally I have the sugar threshold of a five year old.
I went to the Indian grocery store in my neighbourhood in search of tutti frutti, but was unable to find any at all. Chinese grocery store to the rescue:
Not one, but two brands of dried papaya. I bought both, since each was a different colour and the multi-colours of tutti frutti appealed to me. I was going to make tutti frutti myself!
The orange papaya slices on the left are the Dan-D-Pak brand, and the yellow chunks are the R&M brand. The main differences seem to be that the Dan-D-Pak papaya have food colours and sulphur ingredients added, which some of the health foodies may be averse to. But I’ll eat pretty much anything if it isn’t an animal, so I tasted both to see if I could determine any other differences.
I was surprised by how mild both brands of papaya tasted. Neither were as sweet as the type I used to get. I was also surprised by how much softer the R&M papaya was than the Dan-D-Pak – I thought the chunks would be chewier, but they were soft and easy to slice with a knife. The Dan-D-Pak papaya was chewy, though, and kept sticking to my knife as I tried to dice it.
But I managed:
Now that I had my “tutti frutti”, it was time to bake something. I had the perfect thing in mind, too. Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookies from SailusFoods. I altered the recipe just a little.
Tutti Frutti Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup custard powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup liquid (water or soymilk, etc)
Chopped bits of papaya or other dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix into dough. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more liquid. If the dough is too soft, chill it for a bit. Using hands, form the cookies by rolling between the hands and flattening slightly.
Garnish with the dried fruit; I brushed the cookies with almond milk first to help the fruit stick better.
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Nom happily.
Yielded 24 small cookies