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That's why they call it passion

Sunday, September 18, 2011

When I was growing up, my next door neighbour, who also happened to be my great-uncle Ben, had a large metal and wire structure in his front yard  on which he grew climbing plants. We children simply used it as a climbing frame and like monkeys, we would be all over said structure at one of our games until one of the adults would eventually yell at us to get off.
    One of the vines that twisted and twirled over the trellis was passion fruit. I never understood what they had to do with passion: They were so sour, the only strong feeling they could arouse was repulsion. I avoided passion fruit for years because of that memory.
Who said wrinkles were bad?

   Years later, passion fruit sold at the market caught my eye again. People with their own plants would wait until the purplish skin (another variety is yellow) shrivels a little or falls off the plant, but suppliers of course, will get them to the market while the skin is still smooth. I take them home, leave them on the kitchen counter and wait until they start to look like my cellulite-ridden hips. The inside will be full of tangy pulp. Not the passion fruit I remember from my childhood.
    I still don't know how the fruit got its name, but since I got reacquainted with passion fruit, I have looked for as many recipes as I can in which to use it. 
    Like this tart, for instance. It has a few components, but comes together quite easily. For a different flavour, I would change the type of biscuit or spices I use for the tart shell or substitute the fruit. In fact, the pastry cream is a good, basic go-to custard filling.
    I brought the tart over to a family gathering on the Malaysia Day (Sept 16) holiday and it went down a treat, especially with Nephew No.1 who sheepishly asked for a second slice (good boy!). I couldn't convince Nephew No.2 (my dear godson a.k.a The One Who Doesn't Eat) despite telling him the little black things on top of the tart were tadpoles.
Quite easy to put together: Cook, bake, pour, chill
Serves 8-10

1 baked tart shell (still in baking tin)
1 quantity pastry cream
100g passion fruit pulp (from 2-3 fruits)

Garnish (optional)
Whipped cream and passion fruit pulp
Snow sugar (decorating icing sugar)
  • Fold pulp into pastry cream. Spoon into tart shell and smooth the top. Cover and refrigerate until set and firm.
  • To serve, remove sides of pan and place tart on a serving dish. Pipe whipped cream around top edge or dust the top with snow sugar, and garnish with passion fruit pulp.
Tart Shell
250g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
150g unsalted butter, melted
  • Combine the biscuit crumbs and spices in a bowl. Add the melted butter and combine well. Press crumbs into the base and 2.5cm up the sides of a 23cm springform pan (the crust will be thin). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 160°C. Bake crust for 10 minutes. It will be soft but will become firm as it cools. 
Pastry Cream
250ml full-fat milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
55g sugar
1 medium egg + 1 medium egg yolk
1 teaspoon vegetarian gelatin
½ tablespoon water
200 ml heavy cream
  • Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, place the cornstarch and sugar in a mixing bowl; whisk to combine. Add the eggs to the bowl and whisk until smooth.
  • When the milk is ready, gently and slowly pour it into the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Put 5.5cm of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  • Place about a quarter of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
  • Heat the cream until it is warm (body temperature) and you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds without feeling discomfort. Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate.
  • Whip the cream until it holds medium stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.


  1. The first time I had a taste of passion fruit, I was totally put off too...I didn't know I have to wait till the skin shrivelled so you can imagine how sour the fruit was when I ate it. This tart of yours must be really delicious, would try this if I can get hold of some passionfruits:)

  2. Oh, You are killing me over here! I'm drooling over this amazing dessert! I love passion fruit, actually I miss it a lot here in Korea, since in Brazil (my home land) we have plenty of that fruit. Passion fruit in Brazil is very popular and also, there's quite an array of desserts with the fruit. Like your nephew, I don't like chewing the seeds either, so for my desserts, I extract all the pulp, then use tiny homemade chocolate chips to play the role of the seeds, I'm sure your boy would love it! If you would like to see what I mean, take a look at this post on my blog:
    Congrats on the gorgeous tart!

  3. Thanks Renata, what a great idea about the chocolate chips. My nephew certainly won't be refusing that version!


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