Passion fruit tartlets

Passion fruit
With Easter on the way it's about time the recipe for these passion fruit tartlets was posted. After all, the name 'passion fruit' refers to the passion of Christ so it seems like a very apt dessert for the season. During the Spanish missions in South America in the 16th and 17th centuries, the missionaries used the passion flower metaphorically: ‘The parts of the flower were imagined to correspond to the instruments and circumstances of Jesus's Passion: the three stigmas to the nails, the five stamens to the wounds, the corona to the crown of thorns, and the ten perianth segments to the apostles. The lobed leaves and tendrils of the plant were also said to represent the hands and scourges of Jesus's torturers.’[1] This was then transferred to the fruit of the flower which became known by the name we’re familiar with today.

These tartlets are made with a digestive crust, filled with passion fruit curd then topped with meringues, crème fraiche, and basil. Last year I was on a curd spree and experimented with different ways of making curd, including a recipe for vegan rhubarb curd. Vegan curds are all very well, but at the end of the day nothing beats an egg-based curd, especially when made with the yolks which makes it even more creamy.

[1] ‘passion flower, n.’, OED Online, January 2019.

Makes 6 tartlets
Prep: 45 min
Cooking: 30 min

200g digestive biscuits
80g butter
1 tbsp honey

Passion fruit curd
6-8 passion fruits (enough to give 100ml purée)
4 egg yolks
150ml sugar
70g butter
A pinch of salt

Mini meringues
Crème fraiche
Basil leaves

Blend the digestives in a food processor until you have a very fine crumble. You can also put the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin, but make sure that the crumbs are very fine or the crust won't hold. Melt the butter and stir into the crumbs along with the honey. Knead together to form the base. Press into individual tartlet moulds. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes at 180c, then leave to cool while you make the curd.

For the curd, scoop out the passion fruit and give a quick blitz in a food processor (this will allow the juices to separate from the seeds). Strain the passion fruit to produce 100ml purée. Whisk together the egg yolks, purée, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Gently heat the mixture over a simmering water bath while constantly stirring. Once the mixture starts thickening, add the butter and stir it in. Continue to whisk for around another 10 minutes until the curd has thickened further. Remove from the water bath and leave to cool slightly.

While the curd is still hot enough to pour, fill the tartlet cases, then leave to cool completely in the fridge until the curd has set. To finish off, garnish the tartlets with meringues, basil leaves, and pipe small droplets of crème fraiche onto tartlets.