Friday, October 22, 2021

Grenadilla Mousse

Whenever I visit Cape Town in summer I can't resist the grenadillas (passionfruit). Abundant, cheap, and tropically complex. Or dropping fatly from the vine growing outside the study of my parents' house. There seems no reason why they should not be as abundant and affordable in the United States - but perversely they cost a fortune (a dollar or more, each). Grow your own if you live in a mild climate. 

(Circa 2021 - or order them from Rincon Tropics, my new best fruit friends in California)

This tartly sweet, creamy mousse belongs on a dessert cart straight from the middle of the last century. It is old school and delicious. I adapted it a very long time ago from a Georges Blanc recipe in his book Ma Cuisines des Saisons. It was - is - a required end to a lunch under the enormous plane tree in my mother's garden.

I love to make this mousse perfectly smooth, but you could also leave the seeds in it, in which case skip the food processing part.

Use a single jelly mould for a large mousse, or individual moulds if you're being fancy and giving everyone their own. They need a knife around the edge and a dip in just-boiled water, then a swift upside-down shake to release.

Serves 8 - 10

20 grenadillas (yield is about 1 3/4 cups juice), chilled
3 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
3 tablespoons boiling water
750 ml (3 cups) whipping cream, chilled
150 grams (5.29 oz) sugar

Halve the grenadillas and scoop the pulp into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 15 seconds to separate the pulp from the seeds. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and strain the pulp through the sieve, extracting as much juice as possible. Discard the seeds.

Pour about a quarter of the juice into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine onto it, swooshing the juice around to cover and soak the granules. Stir to make sure there are no lumps. Add the 3 tablespoons of boiling water and stir again. When the mixture is perfectly smooth, whisk the gelatine-juice back into the rest of the juice.

In a large bowl whisk the cream until it thickens slightly. Add the sugar to the cream and continue whisking until the cream holds soft peaks.

Pour the grenadilla juice into the whipped cream, then fold rapidly using a spatula to blend the mixture well. When no bright yellow juice remains at the bottom of the bowl, pour it into your jelly mould/s (or a round bowl). Cover, and transfer to the fridge. Chill until it is set (about three hours, minimum).

To unmold, dip the mold for about 6 seconds in extremely hot water (too long and the outer layers will melt). Invert onto a flat serving dish and shake hard. You should hear a satisfying plop. If you don't, try running a hot knife around the edges of the mousse, and repeat. Chill until needed.

Serve with freshly cut grenadillas arranged around the edges of the pale mousse.


  1. We can buy a really good passion fruit juice (from South Africa) that comes in waxed boxes and I wonder if this juice could be used to make the mousse. What do you think?


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