Simply Seasonal: Passionfruit – symbolic of biblical history

Sue Barhamspecial food correspondent
Special to the DailyPassionfruit cake

Why is it called passionfruit? Modern culture defines passion as ‘barely contained emotion.’ However, history shows that Catholic missionaries in 16th-century Brazil named the native fruit after the appearance of the flower from which it comes. The passion flower’s individual features were found to be symbolic of the crucifixion of Christ, or as known in biblical history, the Passion of the Christ. The flower has spikes protruding from the center, symbolizing the crown of thorns. There are 10 petals, for the 10 faithful apostles. Three stigmata symbolize the three nails and five anthers represent the five wounds. The flower’s trailing tendrils were likened to whips.The exotic fruit born is tangy but sweet, fragrant and lush. With a wrinkly, purple-brown brittle shell, it is similar to a pomegranate. Break the fruit in half to find the orange pulp and edible seeds. The fruit is an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, the seeds offer great fiber. For using in recipes, the pulp is most often pushed through a sieve yielding a puree perfect for flavoring beverages and sauces.Cima Restaurant’s pastry chef, Bill Fitzgerald, suggests looking for passionfruit, in whole or puree form, in specialty food markets. “The flavor is exotic, somewhat like guava, and lends itself to delicious, delicate desserts.” Fitzgerald creates an airy passionfruit mousse which he uses as a cake filling. Taking it a step further, he swirls the filling with traditional chocolate mousse which he hints is a natural pairing.Chef Fitzgerald’s interpretation of passionfruit cake is pictured here. With true pastry chef inspiration, his presentation is intricate and appetizing. He is passionate about his craft as well as the namesake of this dessert. For the home baker, a layer cake with one or both mousse fillings will recreate the flavors of the dessert shown. With the religious holiday approaching, indulge in a symbolic passionfruit dessert. The layer cake is impressive. Or skip the cake and present a layered parfait of the two mousses in a pretty stemmed glass. Easier still, place a spoonful of passionfruit puree in a tall flute and top with champagne for a stunning cocktail. Sue Barham is the director of sales & marketing at Cima, now open in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. The newest restaurant concept from internationally acclaimed chef Richard Sandoval, Cima is a contemporary Latin kitchen, featuring bold, vibrant flavors with Latino roots, created with fresh ingredients and global cooking techniques.

Sponge Cake: 7 eggs, separated1 cup sugar, divided into halves1 cup flour2 Tablespoons melted butterBeat egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar to medium peaks. In separate bowl, whip yolks and 1/2 cup sugar to ribbon stage. Using a spatula, fold 1/3 whites mixture into yolks, then fold in the rest. Fold in flour. Fold in melted butter. Spread batter into a buttered 10″ springform pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until tester is clean. Cool thoroughly before removing from pan. Slice horizontally into two layers.

4 egg yolks 1/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup passionfruit puree1 cup white baking chips (use high-quality chips)1 1/2 cups heavy cream Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar. Heat 3/4 cup whipping cream and passionfruit puree in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat just until hot. Gradually stir at least half of the cream into egg yolk mixture, then stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in baking chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled. Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold refrigerated mixture into whipped cream. Store covered in refrigerator.Variation for chocolate mousse:Omit passionfruit puree, and increase heavy cream for heating to 1 cupSubstitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for the white chocolatePrepare as for passionfruit mousse.To assemble:Place one half cake on serving platter. Top with passionfruit mousse. Place other half of cake on top. Cover top and sides with mousse, swirling decoratively. (If desired, use chocolate mousse as filling between layers.)

1 cup chilled passion fruit puree1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters1 cup chilled champagne or other sparkling white wine4 fresh raspberries or small strawberries1 orange twistDivide puree and bitters between 2 chilled champagne flutes. Add champagne. Drop 2 berries into each drink. Garnish with orange twist.

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