Passion in Abundance this Valentine’s

Looking for something special to add to the menu this Valentine’s Day? Well move over chocolate and champagne, New Zealand’s horticulture industry is hoping that Kiwi foodies will get more passionate about passionfruit.

The typically elusive fruit’s been grounded in New Zealand thanks to skyrocketing freight prices. This summer’s crop was destined for the United States until more expensive freight prices due to the pandemic combined with greater competition in North America caused growers to reconsider.

According to the New Zealand Passionfruit Growers Association, its roughly 50 commercial growers can produce 120 tonnes a season, most of which will become available from now until April. Typically, 70 per cent of the country’s passionfruit exports are shipped to the US.

“This year there will be a lot more passionfruit for sale on the domestic market so we’re working closely with wholesalers and encouraging consumers to try this delicious fruit if they haven’t before,” said president Rebekah Vlaanderen.

What better ingredient to pair with the most passionate time of the year? Inspire some of those loving feelings on your menu this Valentine’s Day with these sweet recipes.

Maracuja (Passion fruit mousse traybake)

Turn this tangy Brazilian mousse pudding into a traybake cheesecake with biscuit base and gelatine to help with slicing.

Step 1:

For the base, crush the biscuits in a bag with a rolling pin, or pulse in a food processor. Add the butter and stir. Line a 20 x 30cm cake tin with non-stick baking parchment. Tip the biscuit mixture in and firmly press down. Chill.

Step 2:

Mix the passion fruit flesh with the juice. Place the gelatine in a small bowl of cold water to soak. Pour the flesh and juice into a saucepan and heat until hot. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine, add to the pan and stir until dissolved, then remove and pour into a bowl.

Step 3:

Add the milk and loosely whipped cream and fold together. Pour into the tin and chill until firm, about 2 hrs.

Step 4:

For the coulis, purée 1 mango with the lime juice and sugar in a food processor, then stir to dissolve the sugar. Chop up the other mango.

Step 5:

To serve, cut the traybake into squares. Top each one with the coulis, some chopped mango and passion fruit.

Passion-mango Delight with Coconut Whip

These individual pudding pots are a taste of the tropical. The light fruit mousse is topped with a creamy whip laced with coconut liqueur.

Step 1:

First collect 8 glasses to serve your mousses in, and put to one side. Put the coconut and granulated sugar in a bowl and, using a hand blender, whizz together until finely chopped. In another bowl, froth the egg white using a fork. Dip each glass rim into the egg, shake off any excess, then dip into the coconut mixture. Leave to set and dry.

Step 2:

To make the mousse, cut all the flesh from the mangoes. Put the fruit into a blender or food processor with the pulp from the passion fruit and lime juice. Blend to a smooth purée, then set a sieve over a large bowl and sieve to remove any passion fruit seeds. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water to soften.

Step 3:

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it’s just about to start bubbling. Turn off the heat. Squeeze out the softened gelatine leaves to remove excess water, then stir into the cream. When they have completely melted and no gelatine streaks remain, stir this into the mango mixture.

Step 4:

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar and beat to a thick, shiny meringue mixture. Fold a little of the mango mixture into the meringue with a big metal spoon or spatula. Gently fold in the rest (you’re trying to get rid of all the meringue streaks, while retaining as much air in the mousse as possible . Ladle into a jug and divide between the glasses. Chill overnight to set.

Step 5:

To serve, beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar and beat to a shiny, thick meringue, then beat in the Malibu. Spoon into a piping bag (or food bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe a blob onto each mousse. To save time, do this 1 hr ahead and pop them back into the fridge.

Sticky Coconut Rice with Mango & Passionfruit

With flavours straight from Thailand, this is a wonderfully fresh way to end a celebratory meal.

Step 1:

A day ahead, wash the rice with plenty of cold water, then drain and tip it into a bowl. Pour over enough cold water to more than cover it, then leave to soak overnight.

Step 2:

Make the mango sauce. Liquidise the mango flesh with the orange juice, lime juice and sugar. Taste and add a little extra sugar or lime juice if necessary. Pass through a fine sieve, then chill if making ahead.

Step 3:

Drain the rice, transfer to a steamer and steam for 25-30 mins until soft and tender, making sure the water doesn’t boil dry. Simmer the coconut milk with 85g of the sugar for 1 min. Pour in the lime juice, stir in the steamed rice, then leave, covered, for 5 mins until it has a thick, creamy consistency. Check for sweetness, adding more sugar to taste if needed. Cool slightly, about 10 mins, until tepid and holding its shape. The rice is best served slightly warm, as the longer it is left, the firmer and sticker it becomes.

Step 4:

For each serving, place a 6.5cm diameter x 3.5cm tall ring mould in the middle of a large plate. Spoon in one-sixth of the sticky rice. Drizzle a little mango sauce on the plate around the rice. Arrange a few slices of mango on the sauce and lay a few on top of the rice with a sprinkling of lime zest. Spoon around some passion fruit seeds and juice. Scatter over a few mint leaves. Serve the remaining mango sauce separately.

Of course, you need a refreshing drink to accompany these passionate delights.

The Passionate Mojito

Ingredients:

  • crushed ice
  • 60ml white rum
  • 30 ml freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unrefined cane sugar
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves divided
  • 1 large ripe passionfruit or 1 tablespoon passionfruit puree
  • 30-60ml chilled soda water

Combine the rum, lime juice, sugar, all but 1 sprig of mint, and passion fruit in a cocktail shaker and muddle a few times to break up most of the mint and passionfruit seeds. Pour mixture into a tall glass (such as a Tom Collins), add ice to fill 3/4 of the way, stir then top with club soda, more ice (as needed), garnish with mint and serve.

* Tastes just as delicious without the rum as a non-alcoholic version.