Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My passion for fruit

I'm crazy about passion fruit.  I find the sweet-tart flavor and intoxicating tropical perfume to be the most delicious and intriguing combination around.  When I was a pastry chef I often used passion fruit to make a rich curd, which I would put inside mini tart shells.  Even in small doses, passion fruit packs quite a punch.  I've been dreaming of a passion fruit meringue pie for quite a while now.  I finally decided to make it happen when my friend/co-worker left our store recently.  I made pie for her and wanted something totally different from the chocolate cashew butter mousse pie also on the roster.  The tartness of passion fruit makes it a great substitute for lemon in a meringue pie.  And of course with a fluffy, dreamy Italian meringue on top, how could I go wrong?  I think this is the perfect pie to usher in Spring time and would make a delicious addition to your Easter table.

Passion Fruit Meringue Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
Adapted from Lemon-Passion Fruit Meringue Pie by Grace Parisi on the Food and Wine website

1 9-inch pie shell of your choice, I used graham cracker
2/3 cup passion fruit puree, I used Goya brand frozen pulp
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 Tb. butter
1 recipe Italian meringue

Combine the passion fruit puree, eggs and salt in a bowl and whisk well to combine.  In a small, heavy pot combine the sugar and cornstarch and slowly whisk in the water to dissolve.  Cook over medium-high heat until thickened.  Whisk some of this hot mixture into the passion fruit mixture to temper the eggs.  Add this back to the pot and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture has come to a boil and is very thick.  Add the butter and whisk until melted.  Pour the filling through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps of eggs and cornstarch.  Scrape the strained filling into the pie crust.  Press plastic wrap directly to the surface to keep a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until set and completely cooled, about 6 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make the Italian meringue.  Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the pie and pile on the meringue, smoothing it out to the edge of the crust.  Make decorative swirls and peaks in the meringue.  Place in the hot oven and toast until it is browned to your liking.  This should only take a few minutes and don't walk away from the oven, as it will burn quickly.  Enjoy your delicious taste of paradise!

Topping the pie with meringue.

Pretty and spiky, ready for the oven!

Post-browning and ready to be devoured!

Oh look, there's my beautiful orchid again!

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