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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Challenge: Passionfruit slice

Passionfruit slice

I like a physical challenge. I might be the slowest cyclist, a shuffling runner and swim with my head above water, but as soon as someone suggests a competition, I get all hot blooded. I'm kinda the same with food. Someone asks, "Have you tried this restaurant yet?". I get all high-pitched and crazy if I have to answer in the negative. I can't bring myself to lie. Yes, I know it's not rational. No, I'm not seeing a professional about my issues.

Back a few months ago, I posted a recipe for passionfruit yoyos. My buddy Hilary commented she'd been trying to perfect a recipe for passionfruit slice, but it wasn't passionfruity enough. I didn't have a recipe as such, but thought I could cobble together a good rendition. It may be my competitive nature, but I think I hit the jackpot.

Passionfruit slice

All the passionfruit slice recipes I could find very fairly generic: coconut base, passionfruit icing, or maybe a jelly if they were feeling crazy. I knew I wanted a crunchy base, a smooth passionfruit cream and a sharp jelly topping - kinda the best of both worlds, but less about condensed milk (as genius as that stuff is) and more about the light mousse. You may have guessed by now, but I'm a bit gaga for a good mousse. A mousse mentalist, so to speak.

My sweet friend Kaye took us to Le Petite Gateaux for lunch the other day. I should really say dessert, except cake was our totally decadent alternative to the midday meal. I chose a peanut butter and chocolate gateaux - out of this world. I may try to reverse engineer it one of these days. But the most amazing thing for me? The biscuity base was crunchy - almost crackly. I was intrigued.

My first thoughts were some kind of a rice puff - but nothing was visibly obvious. Nuts? Nope, these were sharper than the crunch nuts give (amiright fellas?) (last smutty joke of the post, I swear). Toffee shards were my conclusion. Crispy-crunchy and sweet. I had hit the jackpot; regardless of whether I was right, they were a sweet crackly addition to the base.

Passionfruit slice

I knew immediately my mousse would be based on the passionfruit butter I used in the tropical coconut pie. Hilary wanted a distinct passionfruit taste, and I knew that curd would deliver. But to make sure it didn't overwhelm, I lightened it with whipped cream and some gelatine to help it set.

The jelly topping is another story entirely. I'd figured it out nicely: fresh passionfruit, sugar syrup and gelatine. But when I cracked open the wrinkly little blighters, they didn't have the distinct sunshine colour I was after. I had a brainwave: a little bit of orange and yellow food colouring can't hurt. But this lady was a total loose canon in the kitchen that day: I gave the bottle a bit harder squeeze that I would have liked. The jelly ended up the colour of a workman's vest rather than a delicate sunset. Teaches me for trying to tart up a perfectly good dish.

I had intended this slice to go to my Mum's sister's house as a little treat for my aunties and uncles. Unfortunately I was a little delayed and it was no way near set when Mum left for Geelong. She will have to settle for photos. And Hilary will have to take my word for it: this was a cracker of a passionfruit slice.


Biscuit base

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup sugar
100g butter
1 cup sugar, for toffee

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Prepare a 20cm square cake tin by greasing and lining with butter and baking paper.

To make toffee shards, prepare a baking sheet with baking paper. Heat a heavy bottom saucepan over a medium heat. Pour sugar in and allow to melt, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar starts colouring on the edges, stir consistently to ensure it does not take on too much colour or burn. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and pour immediately onto your prepared baking sheet. Allow to cool and harden. Once the toffee has hardened, break up roughly and place in the bowl of your food processor. Process until it has broken into very small pieces, but not to dust.

To make the base, place all ingredients, except for toffee shards, into the food processor. Blend until a rough dough comes together. Turn out into your tin and need in the toffee. Bake at 180ºC for around 15 minutes. Remove and cool in the tin until room temperature.

Passionfruit mousse

1 tsp gelatine
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup passionfruit juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
125g butter
1 1/2 tsp gelatine, extra
1 cup cream
1/4 cup cream, extra

Passionfruit slice

To make passionfruit butter, soften gelatine in water. Place remaining ingredients in a double boiler (saucepan of water with heatproof bowl on top). Stir with wooden spoon until mixture thickens. Add the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

Whip the first portion of cream until soft peaks form. Soften the gelatine in 2 tablespoons of water. Heat the remaining cream until just simmering, add the gelatine and remove from heat. Once the cream has cooled, fold through the whipped cream. Add to the passionfruit butter and fold through gently until it is completely incorporated. Sieve the mousse to remove the seeds.

Add on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top. Refrigerate until the mousse is set, around 3 hours.

Jelly topping

10 passionfruit
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp gelatine
2 tbsp water

Soften gelatine in cold water. Heat the sugar and water over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. bring to the boil for around 3 minutes. Halve the passionfruit and remove all the pulp. Add the pulp to the sugar syrup and add the gelatine. I removed around half the seeds by sieving the mixture  - not necessary if you don't mind the crunchy top.

Add to the top of the passionfruit mousse and leave to set in the refrigerator for around 2 hours.

Passionfruit slice

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