Friday, February 25, 2011

Passionfruit Bars with a Shortbread Crust

"This special feeling toward fruit, it's glory and abundance, is I would say universal... We respond to strawberry fields or cherry orchards with a delight that a cabbage patch or even an elegant vegetable garden cannot provoke."

-Jane Grigson

I have never eaten a passionfruit. Oh sure, I've had passionfruit tea, passionfruit liqueur, and lately I had a passionfruit cupcake while I was in Los Angeles. I love the flavor, but have never had one. Didn't even know what one looks like. A few days ago I was on a quest to find said passionfruit because I wanted to make something with it, anything. I searched for this tropical fruit, in places I was sure I would find success. A huge Asian grocery, a gourmet grocery store, nothing, not canned and certainly not fresh. Damn, I thought.

I came home and did some research. I found out I may have some luck at a Hispanic market, since they are popular in Columbia and Venezuela. So out I went. After striking out at a few Mexican markets, it happened, I found a market that not only sold Mexican goods, it was labeled, Hispanic market as well.

my passionfruit puree

The woman at the counter was busy, so I roamed the aisles looking for this elusive fruit. Canned fruit aisle, nothing. I thought while I was there I might as well look at other things. So while I was looking at the fresh Mexican cookies and candy I saw the freezer aisle and proceeded. Yes!! There it was. They had many exotic fruits I've never heard of in puree form, for smoothies, the label says.

I took home my puree and went to work. I made a cake that originally called for pineapple, switching out the passionfruit puree in it's place. I thought this is a fruit puree too, like crushed pineapple, what's the difference? Bad idea. Don't do this. I measured out the puree in a measuring cup, then I tasted it. (Thankfully) Wow. Did you know passionfruit is like, super tart? I mean like a lemon. I had no idea.

It was like I was from another planet and had never seen a lemon, but I had a piece of lemon cake and really enjoyed it, so I assumed that if I bit into a lemon it would taste like cake.

I added sugar (alot) to the puree and proceeded. The cake didn't work. It's a stronger flavor than pineapple, and it was too.. well, it had lots of problems.

I decided I needed to treat it for what it is, "it is what it is".. the most popular catchphrase of late. Anyway, I thought I needed to use a passionfruit recipe. Or use a lemon recipe but one that relied on juice for flavor, not zest. So that's where these bars came from. This is my favorite lemon bar recipe only with passionfruit puree replacing the juice.

The sky was really beautiful today. Can you believe we have snow in late February?

They are clearly passionfruit tasting, sweet and tart, with a browned butter shortbread crust. Really lovely. They did indeed satisfy my craving for passionfruit. I purchased quite a few of these, so my passionfruit escapades aren't over.

 My chickens looking for something to eat in the snow.

Passionfruit Squares With A Shortbread Crust


For Crust

1/2 cup (100 g) powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups (150 g) all purpose flour
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) (172 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
pinch of salt

For filling

1/2 cup (50 g) all purpose flour
2 cups (383 g) sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (264 ml) passionfruit pulp, or puree. I found it at a Hispanic market in the frozen section Make sure it's the tart yellow passionfruit, not the purple sweet variety
6 eggs
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt

For Topping

powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 4.

Grease a 9x13 pan and place a piece of parchment paper that hangs over the sides, to act as a sling. (as pictured above.) To lift them out easily after cooking. Then spray or grease the paper.

Make the crust. Add all of the crust ingredients to a bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until it forms a dough. (This takes 3 or 4 minutes, be patient.)

When your dough is ready, press it into the pan. To get it into the corners evenly, use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it in, and up the sides by 1/2 inch or so. It should be 1/4 inch thick.

Line the crust with parchment or heavy duty foil and place pie weights (or dried beans) on top to weigh it down. Bake until it turns golden 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling. Whisk together the flour and the sugar. Add the passionfruit puree, and stir. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs with the salt. Add the eggs to the passionfruit mixture and whisk until well blended.

When the crust is done, pour in the filling. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, 150 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 2. Bake until the center is set, 35-40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. When cold, lift the bars out with the parchment sling, dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares.


Amanda said...

I've never seen a passionfruit either. I like this picture, cool looking plate.

Pat said...

I love the taste of passionfruit, I bet these are delicious!

Amy said...

I love passionfruit! Very tart but nice with drinks and baked good. I love the way to make these passionfruit bars...definitely will try your recipe soon.


Pam said...

Yum, this sounds wonderful. Guess I'll have another of your recipes to try!
thanks! Pam

Anonymous said...

These look delicious. I made a passionfruit buttercream once after about 2 weeks looking for ONE can of passionfruit juice. Or passionfruit in any form.
I had some fresh passionfruit while on vacation before and its one of my favorite things of all time.
When the Indian store gets them in stock, I'll have to try this! All the hispanic stores by me don't carry it :(

Unknown said...

My Grandpa has a passionfruit vine growing along his work-shed. I made the mistake of plucking a few down and tasting them. They kinda look like Kiwi without the fuzz. His were a deep grey-purple color. On the inside, they sort of look like squishy pomegranates. They have seeds that are each surrounded by soft pockets of juice. The seeds are HARD, inedible. And hate to say it, but the purple variety are still pucker-your-mouth tart! I've eaten sweeter lemons! Hehe! But I didn't know mexican markets have Passionfruit puree! We have a ton of Mexi-marts around here, I'd love to make this recipe! Thanks!

The Alchemist said...

Plothole Tsi-

Thanks for the info, good to know from someone who knows theTm.

Make sure you go to a Mexican store that also sells Hispanic items, since rhey are popular in South America.

The straight up Mexican stores around me didn't sell it.

FoodandFitness said...

Wow, this looks amazing!

Eris said...

I did this, but halved the sugar ammount because the pulp I got was sweetened. I also made a chocolate shortbread crust. It tunrned out really good =) Thanks for the idea!

The Alchemist said...

Eris, I'm so glad you enjoyed it, a chocolate crust is a great idea.

Amy said...

Hi again...I'm hosting the Culinary Smackdown Battle for March--the theme is Cookies. Would you like to join in for the fun? It doesn' have to be a new post on your blog. You can pick your favorite cookie from your previous post too. All you have to do is link up your cookie creation. I have some great prizes waiting. Hope to see your entry soon!


Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Your bars look delicious! Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites last week!

Lisa said...

I love the delicious tart taste of passion fruit. Your bars must have been even better than lemon bars. Thanks for linking this up to Sweets for a Saturday.

Melanie said...

I think finding the fruit puree was genius though I do find it funny that you still have yet to see a real passion fruit. Me either! Or a guava for that matter.

The Alchemist said...

Mel- I know it is weird I've never seen one. I've never seen a guava either.