Passionfruit Mousse

No matter where you are, you can grow a passionfruit vine. Plant and wait, and pick and pick and pick and pick.

Passionfruit is one of those rare products of which you never get tired. Eat it fresh, crunching those delicious seeds as you go, or use its juice to flavour creams and custards and jellies and sauces and soufflé. And remember well that a fruit salad just isn’t a fruit salad without half a dozen passionfruit to give it explosive flavour and colour. There’s another wonder here: that something that tastes so delicious could be so easy to grow, and in almost any climate. I envy Queenslanders their good fortune in having huge mango trees, and avocado trees and pineapples and bananas in their backyards, but I smile whenever I see my Nellie Kellys all over my backyard spreading their wings and bursting with those unique flowers.

The flowers are what gave passionfruit such an impressive name: a name not coming from their flavour, but from a religious interpretation of their form. It must have taken a decent imagination to extend this beautiful flower into all sorts of connections with the passion of Christ, but that is what happened. Missionaries in Brazil saw the flowers, figured they could see all sorts of components of Christ’s life therein, and somehow decided that this flower was a sign from above to assist in the conversion of the locals to Christianity. Thus, passionfruit. You can bet those old priests wouldn’t have tasted the fruits, one of the tenets of organised religion in those dark ages being the ability to overcome temptation: if it tastes good, don’t touch it, don’t think of it, and definitely don’t taste it. Times have changed, I think.

For those with a flash dinner party to put together, a passionfruit mousse is simple and quickly transfers into a very good attempt at a quality ice cream, assuming that, like most of us, you don’t have an ice cream machine.

¾ cup passionfruit pulp (about 12 passionfruit), plus the pulp of 1 passionfruit for each mould

30 g sugar

3 leaves gelatine (the rule is 6 leaves for every ½ L of liquid to set)

3 egg whites

25 g caster sugar

100 mL cream

raspberries or any other berries, to serve (optional)


Cook the ¾ cup of passionfruit pulp with the sugar, stirring for a couple of minutes. Stir vigorously. Allow to cool a little and strain through a sieve, using a wooden spoon to push the mixture through. There is nothing simple about this. Be patient, and push.


Mix the gelatine in a little warm water, and squeeze to soften. Gently re-heat the passionfruit syrup, add the squeezed gelatine leaves, and let the gelatine dissolve in the syrup. Keep in a warm place.


While all this is happening, whisk the egg whites until firm, with the caster sugar added on the way through. Set aside. Whisk the cream until firm.


Fold everything together gently, adding the passionfruit juice to the cream first, then the egg whites, maintaining the lightness of both the whites and the cream as you go. The principle is to mix the juice with the cream, then to lighten that mix with the egg whites.


Spoon the pulp of one passionfruit into the bottom of each mould. Pour the passionfruit cream on top, and allow to set in the refrigerator. (This is not a dish to be unmoulded, so use your prettiest dishes, and serve directly to table, accompanied by the best raspberries or berries of your choice.)

NOTE: The most simple passionfruit fantasy takes no more than half a bottle of whipping cream and three or four passionfruits.

Sieve the fruits, removing all the seeds. Gently whisk the cream, adding the juice in a slow and gentle stream. Whisk and whisk and whisk. The cream needs to thicken, but not enough to stand on its own. It is ready when the lovely yellow juice has been mixed through and the cream has expanded, yet still pours.

Serve with ice-cold poached peaches or pears, or with warm apple tart, sprinkled late with more passionfruit, seeds and all.

WINE: Spätlese rhine rieslings would be good here – you don’t want a wine with too much sweetness, but it must have good acid structure.