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Passion fruit desserts can range in style from custards and mousses to cakes, tarts, and pies. These tropical fruits also vary in color, from yellow and orange to purple. Yellow is usually the most widely available color, and the most tart variety of passion fruit. Purple is slightly sweeter, while orange is typically very sweet. To achieve sweet, flavorful passion fruit desserts, cooks should choose fruits at the peak of ripeness, sweeten them properly, and combine the right flavors. Many passion fruit desserts are delicate and require careful handling when it comes to flavoring.
Checking for optimum ripeness is possibly the most important part of making passion fruit desserts. Under-ripe fruit is often extremely tart, bordering on unpleasantly sour. Ripe passion fruit will have no green patches, feel slightly soft, and have a lightly wrinkled skin. This indicates that the fruit is starting to break down, causing the sugars inside the fruit to condense. These fruits are also typically easier to cut and process than ones that have not yet ripened.
The second tip for creating passion fruit desserts includes combining them with the right flavors. The majority of passion fruits have a lemon-like acidity that can be overwhelming. This means passion fruit desserts should generally not include other tart citrus juices or tart berries, like blackberries. Strawberries, sweet blueberries, apples, pears, bananas, and peaches usually work well in passion fruit desserts because their intense sweetness dulls passion fruit’s acidity and brings out its sugars.
Another mechanism for highlighting passion fruit’s sweetness includes using dairy products. Dairy — like yogurt, pudding, whipped cream, and milk — cancel out some of the acids, allowing the other flavors in the passion fruit to shine. Mousses usually contain a whipped cream base and may include natural sweeteners, like coconut and other fruits. Custards work well because the eggs and milk become infused with the fruit flavor while the heat from baking caramelizes the passion fruit. A dollop of creamy yogurt or pudding on top of a tropical passion fruit salad often helps highlight the cool flavors of the fruit and cleanses the palate between bites.
Yet another ingredient frequently included in passion fruit desserts is sugar. There are few faster ways to sweeten this fruit and make it palatable. Of course, cooks should always taste the fruit before adding sugar. Ripe orange passion fruits may not need additional sweetness, while yellow and purple fruits may only need a spoonful or two. Adding sugar judiciously to these desserts, and tasting, generally keeps these tropical desserts from becoming unpleasantly sweet.
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