Passion Fruit Parfait with Moscato Wine & Vanilla

When I was acquainting myself to Italian cooking years ago, I encountered this series of Italian cookbooks Cucchiaio d'Argento (Silver Spoon), flipped through the pages, hoped, sighed, considered, sighed long and finally put it back in the shelf.  I didn't buy it.  The recipes seemed so good but too difficult for a novice like me.   It is, after all, the bible of Italian cooking.  Note taken.  I left the herculean ones to the restaurants.  

I found some passion fruit in the produce section of the supermarket last week and almost squeaked with delight.  I think I really squeaked anyway.   I had been wanting to try my hand at making some passion fruit semifreddo (parfait) for so long.  Being an exotic fruit and so hard to come by in this part, I bought some passion fruit vines years ago hoping that they will bear the egg-shaped fruit.  The flowers are very beautiful but the species I got is NOT the one that produces the good fruit!  Sure, they are edible, if you like eating paper.  So I have these vines scattered about bearing useless oval-shaped fruit.   

I searched the internet for a recipe and found one after about an hour.  There were not so much to choose from.  I had all the ingredients, just less than what was written in the recipe.  I even had a bottle of Moscato wine which I found at the back of the shelf in the pantry.  I had to tweak a bit here and there to compensate for the lack of quantities.  10 PM was really not a decent time to go out food shopping.  In the middle of cooking, I realized that I was following a recipe of Cucchiaio d'Argento.   I almost abandoned the recipe midway, disheartened by my lack of confidence.  Va bene, I will do it, my confidence jumping back in.  

The recipe says to wait for a full day in the freezer before serving the semifreddo.  Excited and agitated as I was, I took it out the following mid-morning and tried it. If I am good at dancing, I would have done some elaborate dance moves.  Yes, it was good!  And it even came from the cookbook that I had eluded for years.

Passion Fruit Parfait with Moscato Wine & Vanilla

Serves 4
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 70 grams sugar
  • 5 passion fruit
  • 30 ml. Moscato di Pantelleria wine (Or any muscat dessert wine.  Original recipe asked for Moscato d'Asti.)
  • 1 vanilla pod (Optional.  I added this one.)
For the sauce:
  • 60 grams sugar
  • 60 ml. water
  • Moscato di Pantelleria wine (Or any muscat dessert wine.  Original recipe asked for Moscato d'Asti.)
  1. Cut the fruit in half.  Empty the shells using a spoon.  Put the pulp with the seeds in a sieve and gently squash them to get the juice out.  Set the seeds aside to use for the sauce.
  2. You have to do the mixture in bain marie so have 2 cooking pots prepared to put one on top of the other.  The bottom pot should be slightly bigger in dimension than the one on top.  Fill the bottom pot with water then put the smaller pot on top of it.  Boil the water in low fire.
  3. Mix the egg yolks with 50 g. sugar.  When the mixture becomes homogenous, add the passion fruit juice and 30 ml. Moscato.  Mix frequently.  Don't let the mixture boil.  When it is already mixed thoroughly, set it aside to cool.
  4. In the meantime, whip the egg whites until stiff.  Add 20 g. sugar and whip for 5 minutes.  Add the passion fruit mixture slowly.  Put the mixture in a plum cake pan lined with saran wrap.  Leave in the freezer for at least one day.
  5. To make the sauce, put together the seeds, water, sugar and the vanilla pod (optional) used for the semifreddo mixture (rinse & dry first) in a cooking pot with very low fire.  Cook for 40 minutes. Add some Moscato wine if it becomes too dense.  Set aside.
  6. After at least one day, take out the parfait from the freezer, slice and serve with the sauce.
  7. The parfait becomes soft fast so take them out right before serving.