Ben the Baker

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Passion Fruit

Posted by osakaben41 on August 30, 2009

Passion Fruit

These were a bear to find, but after a few months of scouring the Boston area, I ended up with 4 not-quite ripe Passion Fruits.  They were fairly expensive, and had to sit out for almost a week to ripen, so I felt compelled to treat them with a certain amount of respect.  I could play with bananas or apples all day long, and not think twice about throwing away failed experiments, but these were precious.

Looking around online I came across a number of recipes for Passion Fruit sauce, or simply using the seeds as a garnish.  They’re also commonly mixed into cocktails, and apparently used to complement other (presumably cheaper) fruits.  What we needed here though was something that just let the passion fruit stand on it’s own, an extended guitar solo if you will.  For a minute I thought about just doing a quick sorbet, but that just seemed too simple.

Passion Fruit2

One reoccuring theme seemed to be it’s similarity to Lemons, showing up as a curd for tarts or in a souffle.  With that framework, I wanted to try  a variation on a lemon meringue pie.  But with only 4 passion fruit to use, whatever I made needed to be one bite size.  Even the tart rings I had would at best end up making one or possibly two tarts, that would have to be split four ways at best.  What the situation called for was something closer to a canape sized treat.

From there I started looking into cookies.  There’s still a really interesting shortbread recipe that Barbara Lynch called  the best ever” from Claire Clark, so we could try small squares with a line of passion fruit curd next a line of torched meringue, but unless the curd was really stable, it’d run right off the sides.  I wanted to avoid using any gelatin so we need a way to keep the curd in place.  I thought briefly about mini Pavlovas, but was never a fan of that much meringue on it’s own.

P-F

Charlie Trotter however had a great lacy tuile recipe that made for easily shaped cookies, so I went back to that well, with the idea of making small “J” shapes, filling the open cup with a thin piping of curd, then sealing it in with some browned meringue.  “The Flavor Bible” suggested pairing Passion Fruit with Coconut, so a quick substitution to the hazelnut tuile, and we have coconut “J’s” to work with.

So the first thing I learned is that you don’t get a whole lot of material to work with out of 4 passion fruits.  Each on it’s own resembled nothing much more than what a squirrel might sneeze, but man… that sweet sweet smell.  There’s just nothing else like it.

P-F2

Given the size of these, and relative simplicity of it all, I wanted to treat them like cannolis, and only assemble them right before they were to be eaten.  So with a Tupperware full of coconut Js and pastry bags full of passion fruit curd and meringue, I was able to do “table service” at our friends  house, as they kindly agreed to take these off our hands.  That’s what friends are for after all.

P-F3

The cookies were a bit off, as they relied on far too much honey to keep them flexible enough to work with just out of the oven.  It clashed with the Coconut somewhat.  Next time I’d go with a more egg white based tuile recipe, even if it tends to make more delicate and harder to shape cookies.  The Passion Fruit itself could have ripened for another day or two, but overall tasted just great.  The curd was the simplest of treatments, just a bit of egg and sugar mixed into the pulp, seeds and all, finished off with a bit of butter once it had been cooked to a pastry cream type custard.

I only filled a few of these, as it just proved so much easier and casual to just dip the cookies in the unused curd and meringue.  The cookies also were so thin they broke apart on the first bite.  So as a one-bite treat it would work, but as a 2-bite, not so much.

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