25 March, 2009

Passion Fruit Take 2

After the first disaster with passion fruit I wasn't willing to give up on my family.  Dammit, they were going to like these things!   Considering that it was the seeds that turned off both The Monster and Hubby I knew I need to do something with just the juice.  The novelty of cracking the fruits on the counter just wasn't enough to carry them through the visual.  That left out Nigella's famous passion fruit pavlova.  But everything tastes better as ice cream.  Well, except for that weird savoury ice cream they were always making on the original Iron Chef.

Another trip to More Than Mangos yielded some of the same orange passion fruit and the little purple ones.  Crack 'em open and the orange ones have pale pulp and the purple ones have orange pulp.  Go figure.

We had family in town over the weekend and my 6 year old nephew came in the kitchen to help me make this ice cream. He gleefully smashed the passion fruit, nearly gagged when he saw the insides, and bravely tried a small slurp of the seedy pulp. He admitted that it tasted good, but politely declined any more. Oh, and he was happy to devour a bowl of the ice cream before they left for the night, not so generously sharing with his parents.

A little research and some searching through my own recipe archives and I arrived at a recipe that I thought would work.  I made it once, and then again.  Yeah, it's good.  In case the above photo didn't tip you off, this is no plain passion fruit sorbet.  This is rich, subtly sweet ice cream with bits of meringue in it, passion fruit pavlova ice cream.  The ice cream has the subtle flavour of the passion fruit, with a hint of vanilla.  But it is thick and creamy, reminding you of the whipped cream.  And the bits of meringue introduce a softer texture that disappears as the ice cream melts on your tongue.  Just writing about it now is making me very happy that there is a bit left in the freezer for a before bed snack, if I can keep The Monster successfully diverted with cookies and bed-jumping.

In fact, putting meringues in ice cream is an ingenious idea.  You use the egg yolks for the ice cream's custard base and make the meringues with the egg whites.  No waste, and some extra meringues for nibbling on while your custard chills.

I used a recipe that I found on Orangette.  Hers calls for the addition of cocoa nibs.  While good, I would leave those out for this recipe.  I used my leftover three egg whites, spooned out about 12 good sized clouds, and baked them while I made my custard.  Once cooled completely I froze them.  The texture doesn't change tremendously, but it does help when breaking them into small pieces to put in the ice cream.  Try to be conscious of the colour of your meringues.  It doesn't really matter, but the subtle contrast in the finished ice cream is a nice touch.  Plus, it helps when you are feeding the baby who can't eat egg whites the ice cream and you can see the meringues.

Passion Fruit Pavlova Ice Cream

1 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup white sugar
3 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 275 degrees C.  Line a large cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment.
2.  Mix the cornstarch and the sugar together.  Set aside.
3. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt together in a heavy duty mixer.  Beat until bubbles are small and uniform and soft peaks are starting to form, a couple of minutes.
4.  Gradually add the sugar and cornstarch, a little bit at a time.  Continue whipping until stiff peaks form and the mixture is very glossy.
5.  Spoon the egg whites into circles about 2-3 inches wide on a cookie sheet.  You should have enough for about 12-14 individual meringues.  Push down each meringue in the centre with the back of a tablespoon.
6.  Bake for 20-30 minutes.  Rotate your pan and watch that the meringues don't take on too much colour.  If they are turning golden turn down your oven temperature.  Finished meringues should be crisp and dry.  Cool completely on the pan before turning out on to a wire rack.
7.  Place half the meringues in the freezer for at least 4 hours before using.  Enjoy the rest as sweet treats.

Ice Cream
4-8 passion fruits - you need about 1/2 cup juice
2 cups half and half cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 inch piece of vanilla bean, split, but not scraped
3 egg yolks
Splash of vodka, rum, or passion fruit liquor

1.  In a heavy saucepan whisk together the creams, milk, sugar, and salt.  Over medium heat bring to a simmer.  Toss in the vanilla bean while heating.
2.  Whisk the egg yolks.  Add about a cup of cream to the yolks, whisking vigorously.  Then stir the egg mixture into the cream.  Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until the custard is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
3.  Strain the custard into a clean bowl.  Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night.
4.  Take your passion fruits and find the closest child with a bit of strength or energy.  Get the kid to smack the passion fruit on the counter in order to crack it open.  Scoop the pulp into a wire mesh strainer and stir with a tablespoon to force the liquid through the strainer.  Chill 1/2 cup juice until you are ready to freeze the ice cream.
5.  When the custard is cold, make ice cream according to your appliance's directions.  When the ice cream is done, just before you turn off the machine, add the passion fruit juice and the splash of liquor.  
6.  While the ice cream is churning chop your frozen meringues.  They will still be somewhat soft, so be gentle.  Resist the urge to tear them apart because you will merely squish them down.
7.  Pour your ice cream in to a plastic container for freezing.  Fold in the chopped meringue. Cover with plastic wrap and the container's cover.  Freeze for a minimum of a two hours before serving.


Anonymous said...

Wow pavlovas are the sign of an authentic gourmet. Anyone willing to create something that involved has my profound respect..

Anonymous said...

Fun idea! You know what else is lovely? Passion fruit curd (instead of lemon curd) in a pie with a meringue top.

Aimée said...

Lovely Cheryl! You should get a contract with Ben & Jerry's for this flavor. I can only imagine how delicious the meringues must be in the ice cream. Great job.

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