Mousse de maracuya or passion fruit mousse is a delicious and easy to make dessert, which is also very popular with friends who have tried it; in fact the first time I made was when one of my friends requested that I make it for dessert, she had passion fruit mousse in Brazil and loved it. The easiest way and most typical way to make this dessert (and many others in South America) is to use condensed milk. I used condensed milk that first time and was not too crazy about, however when I added a spoonful of fresh passion fruit pulp on top of the mousse and some whipped cream on the side the taste improved dramatically. In fact combining the whipped cream and the mousse reminded of these amazing passion fruit and cream popsicles that I used to eat in Ecuador, and that was exactly the flavor that I wanted to obtain in the passion fruit mousse. The second attempt was much more successful; I eliminated the condensed milk and replaced it with heavy whipping cream, I also added some fresh passion fruit pulp into the mix; it worked out very well. Now, it is a question of preferences, I have a lot of friends that are crazy about condensed milk and they might have preferred the taste of the mousse with condensed milk; you can also do half condensed milk/half whipping cream version if you want the best of both worlds. Another reason I prefer using only the whipping cream is that it made the texture of the mousse a lot more fluffy and spongy.
In Ecuador (and many places in South America) maracuyas or passion fruits grow like weeds – seriously in the town where my parents live there are passion fruit vines everywhere; in addition if you go to the market or grocery store you can buy several huge passion fruits for less than $1. Here in the US it’s the opposite: it’s almost impossible to find passion fruits anywhere and when you are lucky enough to find them they are tiny and cost $2-$3 per fruit. However, most Latin grocery stores will carry frozen and unsweetened passion fruit concentrate or pulp, which is what I use most of the time that make anything that calls for passion fruit. Yes, there is no comparison the taste of using fresh fruit, but it still works well. For this passion fruit mousse I used the concentrate to make the mousse and then used fresh passion fruits that I found at Uwajimaya (a local Asian grocery store, which also sells plantains, yuca starch, and many other ingredients used in Latin American dishes) to garnish the mousses. I also added some fresh passion fruit pulp in the mousse mixture to give it extra flavor; however it will be fine if you just use the fresh fruit pulp to top off each serving.
You can either just put the entire passion fruit mousse mix into a large dessert bowl and keep it simple, or be very creative about serving and presenting them; I used a combination of small dessert molds, ramekins, and mini-glasses. In addition to using the fresh fruit as a garnish, I also served each mousse with some extra whipped cream and some passion fruit sorbet, this last one was just an extra that I happened to have leftover from a different occasion, but it really added a nice touch to the mousse. The quantities in this recipe are for about 15-20 small servings.
2 envelopes unsweetened gelatin (1.8 grs or 0.25 oz per envelope)
¼ cup water
1 ½ cups passion fruit concentrate or frozen pulp, unsweetened
1 tbs lime juice
1 + 2/3 cups heavy whipping cream (or 14 oz can of condensed milk)
6 egg whites
½ tsp tartar cream
2 cups sugar
2-3 passion fruits, pulp and seeds – optional
Garnishes – Fresh passion fruit pulp from ~ 6 passion fruits, whipped cream, and/or passion fruit sorbet
- Combine the passion fruit juice, sugar (use only 1 cup of sugar if using condensed milk instead of cream or 1 ½ cup if using half condensed milk and half cream), and lime juice in a sauce pan and heat until the sugar dissolves, remove and let it cool down completely.
- Sprinkle the unsweetened gelatin over ¼ cup water in glass heatproof bowl, let soften for about 5 minutes.
- Place the heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water and stir until it dissolves, then stir in the passion fruit juice.
- Place the passion fruit and gelatin mixture in a bowl of cold water and let it cool down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use an electric mixer to whip the cream until peaks form, and then use a spoon to mix in the passion fruit juice mixture – (if using condensed milk just mix it with the passion fruit juice or if using half condensed milk and half cream then whip the cream and then stir in the passion fruit juice and condensed milk).
- Combine the egg whites and tartar cream in a large whipping bowl and mix until stiff peaks form.
- Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites with the passion fruit and whipped cream mix.
- Next use a spatula to gently fold in the remaining stiff egg whites.
- Gently mix in the fresh passion fruit pulp and seeds if using.
- Place the mousse in a large dessert mold or small individual ones, cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, overnight is ideal.
- To remove the mousse from the small molds place them in a bowl with room temperature water before serving to loosen them, then slide a knife along the edges of the mold to help release the individual mousses.
- Serve with a spoon of fresh passion fruit pulp on top, other optional garnishes include whipped cream and/or passion fruit sorbet.