Two weeks ago, on a trip to Southern California for some food photography fun, I hit the passion fruit jackpot.
I haven’t been subtle about my lust for passion fruit, and sure enough, friends Todd and Diane had heard about my (small) obsession, and made a point to stop at a small produce store on our way to breakfast. I almost squealed when I saw the gigantic bags of passion fruit piled high on the counters (along with rambutan, lychees, and other exotic fruit I would have taken home with me if only I had brought a second suitcase). But the passion fruit, well, I would have been willing to abandon more than a few pairs of shoes to take those home with me, if it came down to it.
In Nashville I had paid $3.99 EACH for a couple of passion fruit (the one time I’ve actually seen them), but here, where the passion vines grow like weeds, I snagged an entire bag of them for $12. I felt like I had struck gold.
Who knew fruit could make me so happy?
I toted the bag full of them through TSA (questioning looks and all), tucked them safely by my feet on two different planes before they (and I) made it safely home, where I promptly set about putting them to good use. After all that effort getting them home I couldn’t dare let them go to waste.
As a result, everything I’ve made over the past 2 weeks has involved passion fruit in one way or another. And passion fruit overload for me means passion fruit overload for you. I hereby pronounce thee: PASSION FRUIT WEEK.
Get ready for lots of purple and gold. And no, that has nothing to do with football, or any other sport for that matter. Unless one of these teams has adopted a passion fruit as their logo, I couldn’t care less. Go Team Passionfruit! (or is it Passion Fruit? I honestly can’t figure it out so I’ll just keep alternating between them.)
Preparing fresh passion fruit is slightly laborious, but most definitely worth it. Simply open up the fruits, revealing the geode-like cluster of golden seeds within. Scoop out the pulp, then press as much as you can through a fine mesh seive. You can reserve and add back some of the seeds later if you wish, as they do have a delightful crunch that would be lovely in certain recipes, but the sheer quantity of seeds present in the fruit themselves is usually a bit excessive.
If you can’t find fresh passion fruit, you can also substitute passion fruit juice, puree, or concentrate in its place. Not that those things are much easier to find in a passion fruit-desert like Nashville, but still.
The short of it? Passion fruit makes for an incredibly unique créme brûlée. Creamy and luxurious, with the bright and tropical flavor of the passion fruit intertwined with the rich creaminess you expect from créme brûlée, it’s nothing short of amazing.
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for brûlée topping
- 1/4 cup passion fruit juice (from 4-5 fresh passion fruit) or concentrate
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange five 6-ounce ramekins (or equivalent) in a baking dish. Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil (this will be used for the water bath later).
- In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until lightened in color. Whisk in passion fruit juice.
- Heat cream in a small saucepan until it starts to steam. Gradually pour warm cream into bowl with egg yolks, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking vigorously, until incorporated. Skim off foam. Pour into ramekins. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and place pan on oven rack. Carefully pour in just enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Divide cream mixture among ramekins. Gently place baking pan with ramekins in oven, then carefully pour hot water into the baking pan around ramekins, taking care not to get any water in the custard. It is helpful to use a spouted kettle or pitcher to more easily pour the water into the pan.
- Bake for 30 to 33 minutes or until just set. Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, sprinkle a generous tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each ramekin. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar, moving torch evenly across the tops of the custards to keep the sugar from burning. Alternatively, you place the custards on the top rack of a broiler set to high, and broil until sugar is golden brown and caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.