Saturday 21 March 2020

Passionfruit Pie

"May you live in interesting times" the apocryphal saying goes. With this coronavirus pandemic business, the times certainly are "interesting". And unsettling and worrying. And weirdly mundane, as laundry still has to get done, kitty litter needs to be scooped and meals still have to be cooked. In fact, even more meals than usual because Paul is working from home so all of a sudden lunch is required.

We were supposed to have Paul's mother staying with us for a month, but the South African government closed the borders a day before she was due to travel. Disappointing, since it was the first time she'd planned to come to the UK in several years, but being effectively in lockdown in a home that is not your own wouldn't be entirely cosy.

I had planned several very good meals for her stay. We wanted to cook some of the things we really enjoy which she may not have been familiar with, and also just take advantage of having an extra body in the house to justify a bit of extra indulgence. There were going to be curries and barbecues and cakes. Lots of vegetables prepared in interesting ways. Many, many cups of tea.

Having expected her to arrive on Wednesday morning, my grocery order for this week still contained a lot of the things I had on the menu for this weekend. We'd invited Paul's niece and her husband and Paul's sister in law to join us to celebrate Mothering Sunday and were going to pull all the stops out on the meal. Despite all the news about panic buying, denuded supermarket shelves and grocery deliveries arriving half empty, almost everything I ordered arrived - fortunately I'd had a chance to edit the order before the site crashed and had removed the very large standing rib roast that was an extravagance for six people and completely absurd for two.

The ingredients for the dessert arrived. Paul has revealed, 20 years into knowing him, that he really, really, really likes passionfruit. He also is quite partial to key lime pie. I concluded that passionfruit would probably be acidic enough to thicken the condensed milk and eggs in the way limes do and lo! Passionfruit pie was born. The crust is crunchy, the filling is fragrant and smooth and it's very, very easy. Although if this rush on eggs continues, it may be a historical artifact.
No filter or food colour, just lovely egg yolks

Passionfruit Pie (makes 8-10 slices. You can decide how many people that feeds)

140g digestive biscuits
70g roasted, salted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped in half
80g butter
9 passionfruit
2 limes (you need the juice and the finely grated zest)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks (I used particularly nice eggs with lovely glowing orange yolks, which gave my pie a gorgeous colour)
150ml double cream (optional) to garnish

Preheat the oven to 160C, fan

Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan. In a food processor, combine the digestives and nuts and process until the biscuits are fine crumbs and the nuts still have some chunky bits (if you don't want to wash up the food processor, crush the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin and chop the nuts by hand) and mix the crumbs into the melted butter. That's why you melted the butter in a larger saucepan than you needed.

Press the buttery crumb mixture very firmly into the base and sides of a pie plate. I think your hands are the best tool for this, but you can use the back of a spoon if you insist.

Bake the crumb case for 8 minutes.

While the crust is baking, scoop 8 1/2 of the passionfruit out into a mini processor and reserve the last half passionfruit for garnishing later. If your passionfruit don't come in multiples of 3 you can go nuts and use 9 whole passionfruit for the filling and an extra one for the garnish. It's the end of the world! Let your hair down. Whizz in the mini processor until the pulp on the seeds has broken down and the seeds are starting to break up a bit. This maximises the amount of juice you get out of them. Strain the passionfruit into a 1l measuring jug and add the grated lime zest and juice. This should give you about 200ml juice. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks and stir until smooth. You will feel it thickening almost immediately.

Pour the filling into the baked crumb crust and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until set but still with a bit of a jiggle. Allow to cool completely and then chill for a couple of hours before serving.

Whip the double cream to peaks, pipe it on if you can be bothered or just splodge it as I did, then garnish with the pulp from the reserved half passionfruit.


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