I love passionfruit. The second house of my childhood had the most immense vine, which sprawled the full length of the double shed-garage and, with rogue tendrils outstretched, constantly threatened to take over the house. In summer, the cool whisperings of its bottle-green leaves would make way for the unique and profoundly stunning flowers; beautiful in both complexity and demonstration of just how clever nature can be. When the fruit finally appeared the smooth green orbs would slowly darken and wrinkle, and to the most vigilant hunter would go the purple prize, bursting with crunchy seeds and drippy, golden juice.
These days, however, the passionfruit has become somewhat of a rare summer treat. No longer able to enjoy a vine of my own I am reliant on produce markets and, on the rare occasion that you find them there, they're certainly not cheap. I therefore feel that when I do choose to indulge my passionfruit cravings then I at the least should attempt something special.
The idea was simple enough. For a while now I'd been lusting after Maria Elia's almond rose water and chocolate teacake chimneys, but had in mind to try a scorched passionfruit version instead. Some little coconut almond cookies were consequently baked off, and a filling of passionfruit jelly was also set.
So far so good, but where things eventually fell apart was at the marshmallow. I'd only ever made it once or twice, and never before without gelatine, so my confidence in getting it to set was somewhat lacking. I'd also decided to replace the called-for almonds with the strained passionfruit seeds (I love the seeds and their unique crunch so despair when recipes just toss them out!), which may have been a touch wet, and so the resulting marshmallow was certainly on the more tender side of soft. The texture was nice and lush, but insufficiently firm to attain the height for which I'd hoped. And while the taste was indeed lovely, a rather untimely larder fail (read: running out of white caster sugar, thus needing to use raw caster sugar instead) introduced some caramel notes in both colour and flavour that took over a little (perfectly delicious, just not the effect I was after).
The other great "in retrospect..." moment came during the final construction. To pipe the marshmallow properly it needs to be warm, and if you throw in some scorching on top of that what you get, rather obviously now, is molten jelly. So instead of a beautiful clean cross-section of a wobbly golden centre surrounded by white, fluffy peaks it was more of an oozy mess. Still tasted delicious, just a rustic indulgence in place of an elegant sweet treat.
So with playtime over the conclusion was to reserve this dessert for the kitchen bench, and perhaps optimise each component first before throwing them all together again willy nilly. That said, while it may not have turned out as I'd envisaged I did still get to enjoy my passionfruit, and the spare cookies were also a nice little bonus. Especially once coated in chocolate...
For the biscuit base:
- 50 g caster sugar
- 50 g butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 70 g almond meal
- 30 g desiccated coconut
- 100 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- A pinch of salt
For the passionfruit jelly:
- 8 passionfruit
- 150 ml water
- 60 g caster sugar
- 1 titanium-strength leaf gelatine
- Juice of half a lime
For the passionfruit marshmallow:
- 3 egg whites
- 150 g caster sugar
- 2 Tbsp golden syrup
- A pinch of salt
- 1 passionfruit
To make the biscuits, cream together the butter and sugar until pale, and then slowly incorporate the egg yolk and milk. Sift in the remaining ingredients and stir to form a dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and roll the dough to 0.5-cm thick. Cut 6-cm-diameter rounds and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and then bake at 160°C for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
To make the jelly, strain the passionfruit juice into a small saucepan and combine with the water and caster sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and then cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaf in cold water until soft. Strain the passionfruit mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the squeezed gelatine and lime. Pour into a dish lined with cling wrap (the size of the dish will depend on how thick you want your jelly to be) and then refrigerate until set.
For the marshmallow, strain the passionfruit juice into a large heatproof bowl and add all other ingredients (except the passionfruit seeds). Set over a pot of simmering water and whisk for approximately 15 minutes, until the mixture has doubled in size and forms stiff peaks. Fold in the strained passionfruit seeds (from the single passionfruit, not those used for the jelly) and spoon the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag.
To construct the chimneys, freeze the jelly for around 20 minutes (this just makes it easier to handle), then cut 3.5-cm-diameter rounds and place in the centre of each biscuit. Pipe a spiral of marshmallow around 6-cm high on top and then finish with desiccated coconut or by briefly scorching with a kitchen torch. Leave to set in a cool place for 10 minutes before serving.