Now, there's no easy way to say it, but I am afraid this cake is quite time-consuming to make. People always ask me for simple, yet delicious recipes in the quest for real food that you can prepare after a long working day or fit in with the busy lives we lead. This is definitely not one of them. But if you're a passion fruit addict like I am, you'll go the extra mile and make this deliciously creamy and stunningly beautiful cake one day... it took me a full two years to pluck up the courage. Just choose a better day than I did - mid-day on the hottest Sunday in the year might be a convenient time because the little one is sleeping, but baking a cake when the outside temperatures roar to 35 C is definitely not recommended.
Since the birthday dinner I organised for my dearest husband at the end of last month was such a disappointment (another thing I need to find time to blog about), I felt like this was a way of making it up to him. If asked, he'll choose a chocolate cake over anything else, but this combination of passion fruit and white chocolate left him drooling. It even convinced my daughter to overcome her phobia of gelatine - she happily tucked in without a sound. And I felt like I had accomplished something. Never mind the sweat...
White chocolate & passion fruit tart*
(yields 12 servings, a 24 cm tart)
375 g sweet shortcrust pastry**
For the biscuit layer:
2 medium eggs
50 g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
seeds of ½ vanilla pod
1 pinch of salt
60 g self-raising flour
20 g butter (melted)
For the white chocolate mousse:
1 egg yolk
1½ leaves gelatine
200 g white chocolate (melted)
250 ml whipping cream
For the passion fruit mousse:
120 g passion fruit purée (ca. 400 g fruit)
2½ leaves gelatine
20 g icing sugar
10 ml vodka
1 egg white
30 g caster sugar
125 g whipping cream
For the passion fruit jelly:
120 ml passion fruit puree (ca. 400 g fruit)
2 leaves gelatine
3 tbsp sugar
First, make the biscuit layer. Beat the eggs with the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla seeds until the mixture ceases to gain volume. Add the salt, flour and butter and mix thoroughly. Pour into a 24 cm buttered cake tin, level out and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 170 C. Take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Roll out the shortcurst pastry to 3-5 mm thin. Spread over the base of said tin (I always use a non-stick Kaiser springform tin) with the pastry overlapping the sides. Prick with a fork several times. Place the ring on top, pressing down lightly to sit on the pastry, but not actually closing it. This should keep the pastry level and prevent it from shrinking. Place in the oven at 160 C and bake until golden brown (ca. 15 minutes). While still hot, cut the pastry along the sides of the base and close up with the ring of the cake mould.
The passion fruit purée for the mousse and the jelly can be prepared at the same time. Cut the fruits in half and scoop the fruit into a heavy-based pan. Put on the stove and heat gently, simmer for no more than 2-3 minutes. This will make the pulp separate from the pips more easily. Pass through a wide-meshed sieve until only the black pips are left in there.
For the passion fruit mousse, soak gelatine in water. Meanwhile, gently heat 120 ml of the passion fruit purée in a pan, then drain and squeeze the gelatine and dissolve it in the fruit. Add the icing sugar and vodka. Whip the cream until stiff and fold into the mixture. Beat the egg white until starting to firm up, then add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Fold into the passion fruit mixture. Pour into the cake tin, level out, then carefully top with the biscuit layer and transfer to the fridge.
Prepare the white chocolate mousse. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 15 minutes. Beat the egg and yolk in a bowl over simmering water until thick and smooth. Drain and squeeze the gelatine, add to the bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the melted chocolate, then whisk the cream until stiff and fold into the chocolate mix. Pour over the biscuit layer and level out. Return to the fridge and leave to rest for at least two hours.
Prepare the passion fruit jelly. Place the remaining passion fruit purée in a heavy-based pan and bring to a simmer. Add the soaked gelatine leaves and the sugar dissolve completely. Spread the jelly over the white cocolate mousse with utmost care. Return to the fridge and leave to firm up for at least one hour.
* This recipe is based on Johanna Maier's Passionsfruchttörtchen (p. 206) which she apparently once baked for Prince Montgomery, the nephew of the Thai King Bhumipol, in November 2002.
** If you can only find regular shortcrust pastry, dust the pastry with sugar before putting it into the oven.