Photo Marisa Marchitelli
One of my all time favourite desserts. This is what my amazing baker friend JaJa asked me to make to go on her dessert table at her wedding party. It’s a perfect balance of tart and sweet flavours and contrasting textures, crisp and fluffy meringues, smooth curd and a crunchy biscuit base.
300 grams of digestive biscuits
185 grams of unsalted butter
250 grams of caster sugar
300ml of water
10-12 passion fruit
1 or 2 limes
4 free-range eggs
5 table spoons of corn flour
24cm loose-bottomed cake tin
So what do you do?
To make the base melt 125 grams of butter in a pan over a low heat. Crush the digestive biscuits (I do it in a food processer) and add these to the melted butter and mix well. Put this biscuit mixture into your cake tin and even it out and press it down with the back of a spoon. Then pop this in the fridge to cool down.
Next start making the curd filing. Cut the passion fruits in half and scoop out the pulp, seeds and juice and place this in a sieve over a bowl to drain. The ones I had today where really big and juicy! Put the juice and a couple table spoons of the seeds (optional but I like to have some of the beautiful black seeds in the curd) into a saucepan with most of the water (250mls), 50 grams of sugar, and the grated zest of one or two limes (I used one large lime) and heat this up. While this is heating, mix the remaining water with the corn flour and squeeze in the juice of the lime(s). Then separate your eggs, put the egg whites in a large clean bowl and set aside. In a small bowl beat the yolks slightly.
When your water mixture reaches a boil reduce the heat and add in the corn flour mixture slowly, mixing all the time. This will thicken up quickly, bring back to the boil and simmer for a minute stirring all the time so it doesn’t burn. It will become thick and glossy. Turn the heat right down and add the egg yolks and stir these in finally add the butter. Turn off the heat and continue stirring as the butter melts into the curd.
Next pour the curd mixture over your cooled base and spread it out evenly and set aside while you make the meringue topping, Put your oven on at 150 degrees C / 300 degrees F.
To make the meringue beat your egg whites with an electric whisk (or a hand whisk if you have the inclination) until they form stiff peaks. This will take a while even with an electric whisk, and a lot longer with a hand whisk. A few years ago I discovered the mistake I’d been making with meringues, I hadn’t been beating the eggs enough and my meringue mixture separated in the oven. My friend Kate taught me, what her Nan had taught her, that you really do need to beat whites until they are light and fluffy and form stiff peaks. Next add the sugar you’ll need 200 grams in total but add it a couple of tablespoons at a time and whisk it into the egg whites. You should end up with a thick glossy mixture like this…
Once you have your meringue mixture ready spoon it on top of the filling. I spoon blobs of neringue over the filling to roughly cover it then with a spoon I spread it out a bit, but not too neatly some texture what you want, and you don’t need to push it right up to the sides as it will be harder to get out of the tin. Then with your spoon tease up some peaks in the meringue so that it looks like a cloud…
Put your pie in the oven on a low shelf and bake for 45 minutes until the meringue is golden. Allow to cool then run a knife round the edge to separate any meringue that may have stuck to the tin and take away the sides of the tin. You can leave it on the base of the tin and place it on a large plate, cut into potions with a sharp knife, making sure you cut through the biscuit base, and serve with chilled pouring cream. Yummy!