The first book I bought when I headed off to culinary school was the Larousse Gastronomique (LG). It was to me then, what google is to current students at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). All the French recipes and kitchen terms I needed to know in one 1,200-page volume. I carried it around like a 10-pound security blanket, so I could quickly look up the french techniques I knew nothing about. It was my culinary bible.
I’ve been thinking a lot about where I find inspiration and how I decide what to create. I dusted off my 1984 edition of LG, flipped through its rather dated pages and found myself staring at the frozen fruit soufflé. This is one of those desserts that looks magical and stands so far above the rim of the vessel that it seems to defy reason and gravity. It’s really only three elements blended together (passion fruit curd, meringue and whipped cream), then frozen into an elegant semifreddo in the shape of a baked soufflé.
I had fresh passion fruit on hand, which I made into a curd by cooking it with yolks, sugar and butter over a double boiler. By cooking it in this way the juices will not crystalize when frozen, so the final frozen passion fruit soufflé has a perfectly smooth and creamy texture.
You can make lemon, mango or any other curd if passion fruit is out of season. The traditional recipe in LG called for a coulis (pureed fruit and sugar), but I prefer the outcome with the curd. The meringue used in the original recipe was French, but today people are a bit more squeamish about eating raw whipped egg whites, so I replaced it with a Swiss meringue, which is cooked over a double boiler before whipping.
The texture is a cross between an airy mousse and ice cream. I recommend letting the frozen soufflé temper (sit at room temperature) for 30-60 minutes before serving. You can also let it sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving, to make sure it is creamy and soft, but still semi-frozen.
Tropical Fruit Resources
Tropical fruit and purees can sometimes be hard to find locally, so I often order mine online.
Fierce Fruit (for Fruit Purees)
Tropical Fruit Box
Vanilla Beans – here is more info on using vanilla beans
- 1 cup fresh or frozen passion fruit pulp unsweetened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp butter
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
- pinch salt
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream divided
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract divided
- 1 tsp confectioners' sugar
- Passion Fruit Caramel this recipe is found in Hetty McKinnon's book To Asia With Love
- 1 pint blackberries
To Make the Curd
- In a bowl set over a double boiler, mix together the passion fruit, sugar, salt and yolks. Use a rubber spatula to stir it until it starts to thicken. Then stir in the butter. Once it is thick, remove from heat, cover with plastic and set the bowl over an ice bath to cool. You can make this a couple days ahead.
- Prepare a 8-inch souffle dish: lightly oil a piece of parchment paper that measures 24 x 8". Wrap the parchment, oil side facing in, around the souffle dish and secure it with a paperclip and ribbon or kitchen twine. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring 1 inch / 2.5 cm of water to a simmer.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt; place over the simmering water and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is hot and all of the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and place onto the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, then beat on high speed until very thick and glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- Fold the meringue into the chilled passion fruit curd.
- Whip 2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1 tablespoon vanilla extract until medium peaks. Fold the cream into the passion fruit mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared souffle dish, level off the top and freeze for at least 8 hours.
- Unmold the frozen souffle, let sit for 30-60 minutes at room temperature (70°F).
- When ready to serve, pour passion fruit caramel over the top. Whip the remaining heavy whipping cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and confectioners' sugar to medium-stiff peaks. Spoon over the caramel (optional — recipe found in Hetty McKinnon's book To Asia With Love). Top with berries. Spoon into serving dishes at the table.
Looking for more recipe inspiration? Check out my other frozen dessert recipes!