Saturday 5 February 2011

Passion Fruit, Crème Fraîche and White Chocolate Cream Pie

In the second of my series of Valentine's Day food for lovers, I present to you this wickedly creamy and rather delicate pie, gently scented with fresh passion fruit (granadillas, we call them in South Africa) and enriched with white chocolate.

Isn't 'passion fruit' a perfect name for this most erotic exotic of fruits?  The name, however, refers not to the juicy fruit of this South American vine, but to its beautiful, orchid-like flowers, which are said to resemble symbolic elements of the Passion of Christ.

Passion Fruit flower
According to this Wikipedia article, Spanish Christian missionaries in the 15th and 16th centuries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially His crucifixion. For example, the tendrils represent the whips that were used in the flagellation of Christ, while the flower's radial filaments represent the crown of thorns.

(And as for the word 'granadilla', I believe this is derived from the Spanish 'granada', meaning pomegranate. I have no idea why South Africans say 'granadilla' and not 'passion fruit'; I put this question to my friends on Twitter the other night, and even that clever bunch couldn't come up with an answer. I'll do some digging and get back to you.)

I love the heady sharp-sweet taste of granadillas, but I find them quite intense, even aggressive, so I've used them sparingly in this tart.  Because I wanted a soft, voluptuous tart, I've avoided cream cheese and instead used crème fraîche, a slightly sour, thick cream with a lovely light zinginess.

Passion Fruit, Crème Fraîche and White Chocolate Cream PieGranadillas are in high season now in South Africa, and I was anticipating a bumper crop from the three vines I planted against a sunny wall last year. Alas, the vines have produced, between them, three fruits: let's call them A, B and C. A fell off and rotted in the flowerbed, and B and C are as hard and green as tennis balls, though not anywhere as big.  So, supermarket granadillas it was.

This is fairly easy to make, but do measure all the ingredients - especially the gelatine - very precisely, using level cups and teaspoons, to ensure a perfect, whippy texture.

Lining the base of the tin with clingfilm allows you to lift it easily onto a pie plate (see Cook's Notes, below)

Passion Fruit, Crème Fraîche and White Chocolate Cream Pie

For the biscuit crust:
one packet (200 g) Tennis biscuits, or similar crumbly coconut biscuits
100 g unsalted butter, softened

For the filling:
200 g white chocolate
20 ml (4 tsp) tepid water
2 tsp (10 ml) gelatine powder
one 250-gram tub crème fraîche (I use Lancewood, or Woolies)
½ cup (125 ml) fresh passion fruit pulp
½ cup (125 ml) condensed milk
the finely grated zest of half a lemon
20 ml (4 tsp) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream

To top:
a little fresh passion fruit pulp

Break up the biscuits and process them to fine crumbs in a food processor (or crush them with a rolling pin). Place in a bowl, add the soft butter, and stir well to combine. Wet the base of a non-stick 24-cm springform cake tin and cover with a sheet of clingfilm. Tuck the edges of the clingfilm under the base, and place it in its ring. (If there are  wrinkles, gently stretch out the clingfilm.)

Passion Fruit, Crème Fraîche and White Chocolate Cream Pie
Press the biscuit mixture evenly onto the base of the tin and place in the fridge while you make the topping. A good way to get a nice even crust with a sharp edge:  lay a small shot glass on its side, rim touching the side of the tin, and roll it lightly round in a circle.

Break up the white chocolate and place it in a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Allow to melt gently (and take care not to allow steam into the chocolate, as it has a tendency to 'seize').

Put the water in a little bowl, sprinkle the gelatine evenly on top and set aside to sponge.

Put the crème fraîche, passion fruit pulp, condensed milk, lemon zest and lemon juice into a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth and well combined. Stir the chocolate and scrape it into the mixing bowl (work quickly here, or it will set). Whisk until quite smooth.

Put the sponged gelatine into the pot of simmering water (the water should come half way up the sides) and allow to melt. When the liquid is clear, remove the bowl and set aside to cool for a minute. Whisk the melted gelatine into the other ingredients.

Whip the cream to a nice firm peak. Stir a large spoon of cream into the crème fraîche mixture to slacken it, then very gently fold in the rest of the cream.

Passion Fruit, Crème Fraîche and White Chocolate Cream Pie
Pour the filling onto the prepared crust (pile it all in the middle, and then gently press down in the centre with the back of a big spoon so that the filling spreads evenly outwards to 'kiss' the edges of the tin. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set (two to three hours).

Warm the sides of the tin (as described below) and release the cake. Slide a palette knife between the crust and the clingfilm, turning the pie as you go and using gentle levering movements, and then slide the cake onto a platter. Pour a little fresh granadilla pulp on top. Slice the pie using a knife dipped in hot water.

Makes one 24-cm pie; serves 6-8

Cook's Notes 

These are a repeat of the instructions on the post about my Buttermilk Cheesecake with a Strawberry Topping

There are various methods of loosening a gelatine-set dessert from its mould. Professional chefs use a blowtorch, which is briefly flicked over the outside of the tin, but this is a risky business, as a few seconds too long can liquefy the outside of the cheesecake and, besides, it's useless if you're using a plastic jelly mould. A better way is to dip a kitchen cloth in boiling water, and press it to outside of the cold tin for a few seconds. But the best way of all, I've found, is to use a hot pack designed for soothing acheing muscles.

If you don't have a Happy Hugger, here's how to make one yourself. (I keep one of these in my kitchen drawer for the sole purpose of loosening jellies!). Steal a long cotton sock from someone's drawer. Fill it with rice or barley, and tie a firm knot in the open end. Place the sock in a microwave oven for 2-3 minutes, or until very warm to the touch. Press the hot pack around the edges of the tin, for 30 seconds at a time, moving it around the edges as necessary. At the same time, release the spring-form lever (or lift the cake ring)  in small increments.

 When you cut the pie, use a hot knife (heated over a flame, or in a bowl of boiling water) for slicing.
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Nina Timm said...

Luscious and lovely. Kane, this is an exotic pie indeed!!

Betsy said...

Oh, looks lovely and probably tastes delicious. I love passion fruit but it is hard to find in the middle of winter in NYC.

Adele said...

You know, I used to hate white chocolate, but these days I can't get enough of it. What a beautiful tart. And great photos as always.

Helen said...

My, that looks delicious!

Damian said...

A nice bottle of SouthAfrican wine and one of these great pies to top off a valentines day supper will be excellent. Hope everyone has a great valentines day!

Kit said...

Mmmm I wonder if we could grow granadillas? They seem to add a touch of zing and class to so many puddings and cut through the richness of the cream so well.

Marisa said...

Always lovely to see a recipe using grenadillas - there aren't nearly enough of them!

PS: Love your cakestand.

Homemade Heaven said...

Granadillas are my very favourite breakfast fruit. The sweet tartness wins me every time.
My Dad is going to love both your granadilla recipes.

Alida Ryder said...

This looks so good Jane-Anne. Good grief, I would give my left foot for a slice right now! Just gorgeous!