Despite the name of this here blog, I’ve actually only used actual passionfruits once–as a component of the faaaabulous Dacquoise Imelda, so I think that should count for twice–in over three years of writing. Given that it’s perennially in my top ten search terms, Mr. T (being a management consultant extraordinare) is always after me to cook with them so as to better capitalize on the vast millions out there googling “passionfruits”. Of course, he’s right, but… just… *sigh*
Leading search terms aside, passionfruits really are kind of magically delicious, so here we are. Although the vines grow well here in DC, and some early varieties can even squeeze out a few fruit by the end of the summer, passionfruits remain firmly in the strange exotica department, particularly with their varied, and slightly odd, looks.
While the fruit comes in a numerous colors, the ones we see most often are purple-rinded and best when slightly wrinkled. The ripe fruit are also mostly hollow, with only a tablespoon or so of seedy pulp, so the savvy shopper must ignore the ingrained habit of searching out taut-skinned, heavy specimens and instead pick the light, shrively ones.
After overcoming that moment of cognitive dissonance in the produce section, the rewards are pretty fierce. With an amazingly pungent, tartly tropical floral flavor punctuated by dark, crunchy seeds, passionfruit pulp possesses a unique taste that holds up uniquely well. Even after freezing, cooking, puree-ifying, the lovely essence of passionfruit always comes through like a champ where so many other tropical flavors would give up the ghost.
This curd is no exception. Even with the cooking and addition of sugar and two kinds of fat (egg yolks and butter), the passionfruit flavor is still rewardingly assertive. It’s also a very basic thing to make and has SO many potential uses. Its unique flavor will add tropical juju atop your morning toast, sandwiched between cake layers, or just right off the back of your spoon.
1 c passionfruit puree*
2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 large egg yolks
8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
In a medium saucepan combine the puree, sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Whisk to combine. Put over low to medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly–and getting into the edges of the pot– until the curd reaches 170°F and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8-10 min. If the mixture starts to steam or bubble, pull it from the heat and whisk madly to cool it down. The goal is to get it hot enough so the proteins in the egg do their thing ,but gradually and in concert with everything else in the pot… otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg in passionfruit juice. This is not as scary as it sounds, and this is why we sieve it anyway.
Remove saucepan from the heat and whisk the butter, one piece at a time, into the passionfruit mixture. Don’t an more butter till the prior piece has been completely incorporated.
Place a wire mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the curd through–just in case–pressing it all through. Even if your curd is perfect, you’ll likely have a few little bits of chalaza to remove. Cool the curd to room temperature, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator.
Notes & Variations
Ok, so if you can get your hand on the ~24 passionfruits you’d need to get 1 c of seedless pulp, by all means do so! Halve the fruits, scrape all the pulp into a medium bowl–seeds and all–and whisk like mad to break it all up. Pass through a fine meshed sieve to remove the seeds, but rub through all the juice and pulp that you can. Save a few tablespoons of seeds to add back to the completed curd if you like, they add a nice crunch and visual interest.
If, like me, you can only find passionfruits occasionally, and even then only 2 or 3 at a time for about $3 each, many Latin markets will have frozen packets of unsweetened (critical) passionfruit pulp. It’s worth looking for as the curd is still really very good made with the frozen stuff. Once defrosted, blend the pulp with an immersion blender or something before using it as it’s a bit chunky right out of the bag. You’ll also have a little extra. I’d mix it with prosecco or something for an amazing tropical drink.