Carnival 2013, passion fruit - Calm and Miranda

It´s going to be a busy week full of festivities! Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day
and it’s Carnival time again! When one thinks of Carnival one thinks of Brazil but the Carnival at Loulé here in the Algarve is the oldest carnival in Portugal.As Carnival 2013 gets under way everything is Calm and Miranda here, and that  means we'd better get stuck into cookin'up some happy sunshine food! The theme of Carnival this year is "Entroikados na grande palhaçada" - "Stuck with the Troika - what a farce", a Portuguese satire on the European Union’s economic hold on Portugal.Not much chance of inspired food around that theme then.So what should we eat?- well If you knew Dixie like I know Dixie I´m thinking Cajun,and to be more specific a Cajun Bloody Mary.Well that puts you in the spirit for sure, but what about keeping your sugar levels up?( Carnival is a test of endurance)There'll be music everywhere, "There'll be swingin' swayin', and records playin, Dancin' in the street" and if both carnival and passion fruit originated in Brazil, what better way to celebrate than with a passion fruit tart.I made a passion fruit curd for the filling and rubbed some Seville orange zest into the sugar.I know the traditional fruit for curd is lemon but passion fruit and Seville orange gives the recipe an explosive betrothal of bitter sweetness and intense colour that marries well with Carnival.The idea behind the recipe is a twist on classic Key Lime pie.You will have some curd left over so why not use it as unusual filling for your crepes or panquecas. And if you don´t make this for Carnival here is the perfect bitter sweet end to end your romantic Valentine´s dinner on Thursday.
So, a desert with a difference for Valentines day, a great pancake filling and Chinese New year - well I am not sure about spring rolls with mango-NO.
Passion fruit tart
Serves 8
For the curd
1/2 cup seedless passion fruit pulp ( polpa de maracujá sem sementes)
1/4 cup seville orange juice
Zest of 2 seville oranges
3/4 cup sugar
8 egg yolks ( reserving 4 whites if you want to make a meringue topping )
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
Put the sugar in a medium bowl and grate the orange zest into it.
Rub the zest into the sugar vigorously with your fingers.
Strain the orange juice into a medium sized pan
Add the passion fruit pulp, egg yolks, butter and zested sugar mix.
Set the pan over a medium to low flame and cook, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. The temperature is crucial and you must not let the mixture boil.Be sure to keep whisking all over the pan especially around the edges.At the first sign of of a boil, remove from the heat and keep whisking. Pour into a sterilised jar and put in the fridge to set and chill.
For the tart shell

15 large digestive
85g/3oz unsalted butter                                                                                                    Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2                                                        Break up the digestive biscuits  and place them into the bowl of a food processor.Place the butter in a heavy-based pan and melt gently.   Process the biscuits in the food processor, until the mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Line the base of a 24cm/9in-10in loose-based spring-form cake tin with a round of greaseproof paper. Brush the bottom of the tin with some of the melted butter and place the round of greaseproof paper in the base.Add the remaining melted butter to the biscuit crumbs in the food processor and process again briefly.Tip the crumbs into the bottom of the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon, gently push the crumbs from the centre outward, until smooth and level. This will form the base of the cheesecake. Bake the cheesecake base in the oven for 10-15 minutes until it's lightly browned and just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes. 
For the filling    
2 cups passion fruit curd 
2 leaves or 2 teaspoons gelatine
2 tablespoons water

Sprinkle gelatine over the water in small heatproof jug; place jug in small pan of simmering water, stir until gelatine dissolves. Cool 5 minutes,then stir into the curd mixing well to ensure all the gelatine has dissolved.Spoon the mixture into the cooled tart shell,and chill in the refrigerator until set.

For the topping
You have a choice here, I opted for a meringue topping and it went disastrously wrong, so if you are a dab hand at meringue baking by all means have a go.But please only attempt this if you are an expert.DO NOT ON ANY ACCOUNT LEAVE THE KITCHEN while the pie bakes; meringue burns easily and if you blink you´ll do an Alfred.
Please use your own method as mine quite clearly failed.
My suggested topping would be a whipped cream topping
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
grated nutmeg to finish (optional)
Beat the cream to soft peaks in a cold bowl(freeze the bowl in advance).Sift in the confectioners sugar and add the vanilla and orange zest. Continue beating the cream to firm peaks.Do not overbeat.Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag with fitted with a large star tip.Pipe rosettes of cream all over the top of the tart.Grate alittle nutmag on top.You can prepare this ahaed of time but only pipe the whipped cream onto the pie one hour before serving.


  1. Calm and miranda? Haven't been able to stop laughing!

    This sounds gorgeous - the seville oranges have just appeared in my local greengrocers (the one with the elderly staffordshire bull terrier who likes to eat carrots . . . worth a trip for that alone!). I shall be yomping over there tomorrow to stock up on some fruit.


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