Thursday, May 5, 2011

Passion Fruit

I never call passion fruit passion fruit.  I always call it maracuyá.  Now this is possibly a little pretentious of me, but I have my reasons.  Do you know why it's called passion fruit?  The Catholic missionaries who came to the new world with the Conquistadores, thought that the flower looked like Christ's crown of thorns.  They named the plant passiflora for the passion of Christ.  Now I know that this is one small thing in a catalogue of acts that include tremendous brutality.  But, what kind of person looks at flower and sees a crown of thorns?  It makes me think of subjugation, and the naming of things that most certainly already had names.  So, at dinner parties, when someone waggles their eyebrows lasciviously and says "mmm passion fruit mousse" I usually shut them down with a story about Conquistadores and zealous Jesuits.  Yes, I'm that wet  blanket.

Maracuyá is possibly my favourite tropical flavour (I'm awfully fond of tamarind as well).  It is tart and refreshing; perfect for this climate.  I have been trying out recipes for this post all week, sometimes without much success.  There was a homely tart:

 and some runny mousse:

I was most satisfied with these custardy squares.  But honestly, the best thing to do with maracuyá is mix the strained juice with some simple syrup and water and make juice, popsicles or sorbet.

Passion Fruit Bars
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup passion fruit juice*
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325°F.   Grease 9- x 13-inch pan. Set aside.
In bowl, beat together butter, sugar and salt until light; stir in flour until blended. Press into prepared pan. Bake in centre of oven until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, in bowl, beat eggs with granulated sugar until pale and thickened. Add passion fruit juice, flour and baking powder; beat until smooth. Pour over base.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  The custard should be set.  Let it cool and then dust it with icing sugar.

*Split the fruit in half and scrape the seedy pulp into the blender.  Pulse the pulp--the idea is to loosen the pulp from the seeds.  If you break up the seeds your pulp will have pretty black flecks (nice for ice cream).  Push the seedy pulp through a mesh strainer.  Four good-sized maracuyás will yield a cup of strained juice/pulp.

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