Hello hello! It’s been a while and I’ve missed you. Nothing new to report here, unless you care that I went out in public in bright teal skinny jeans (confusing), got really into Words With Friends (about a decade late), and bought a ticket to see L7 reunited in a couple of months (16-year-old me is as excited as 29-year-old me, and honestly, all the other versions in between are pretty amped as well).
Oh, and I recorded a podcast! Gabriel of the Dinner Special was a joy to chat with. We talked beet soup, fish sauce, and the end of the word, naturally. Check it out here, if you’re so inclined and haven’t already.
Other than that, I’m just really, really looking forward to fall, like the Basic B that I am. (Just kidding — participating in mainstream commercialized femininity is not cause to ridicule anyone so let’s all stop it.) (Mostly talking to myself here!)
Other than that, I should note we’re not there yet, seasonally speaking. It’s transition time, and the perfect window to embrace bright flavors that really aren’t seasonal in nature. Frozen passionfruit puree, which is probably the best way to enjoy passionfruit’s tangy, bright, floral flavor, is not gonna wither and shrivel and fall from the frozen foods tree.
We’re also going to put a thick, luxurious layer of caramel on it, partially inspired by passionfruit caramels. It also makes sense to balance out the light, tart mousse with something purely, decadently sweet. However, I think you could approach this differently and keep it light and tart, toping it off with passionfruit pulp. It’s kind of slippery and full of seeds, but completely delicious. I also think a white chocolate ganache would be ace here. You do you!
The mousse itself is surprisingly easy and unfussy. Big thanks to Laylita, whose method I adapted here. I’ve never made mousse cake before, but Elizabeth inspired me (she has a way with that), and I think I might be hooked.
A towering layer of mousse is easy, it’s impressive, and it offers endless opportunities to bring in massive fruit flavor, which can be a challenge with traditional layers-and-frosting cakes. (See: Three forms of peach in this peachy number.)
As for the base, it’s just a small portion of basic sponge cake. A blondie would also be great here, if that’s what you’re into.
And that’s it, friends: The 1-2-3 of base, mousse, and topping. We got this. Apples and pumpkins are coming, and they’re coming hard (they always do).
So! Let’s throw something different in the mix for the time being, then next month, we will all bathe in apple cider and compliment each others’ scarves. I can’t wait.
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup frozen passionfruit pulp, thawed
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 6-inch springform pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl until combined. Place the bowl over simmering water in a saucepan and continue whisking until the mixture is warm. Remove from heat and beat mixture with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is pale, fluffy and almost tripled in volume--8 minutes or so.
- Sift the cake flour over the batter, then fold gently to incorporate. Fold a large dollop of the batter into a small bowl with the melted butter, then fold this back into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and starting to pull away from the edges of the pans, 15-18 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- To make the syrup, heat sugar and water on the stove or in the microwave until sugar melts. Cool and stir in brandy or rum. Trim the top of the cake so it's even, and brush cake with the syrup.
- Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water and let it sit for about 5 minutes to soften.
- Combine passionfruit pulp and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Cool mixture by sticking it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle the unsweetened gelatin over ¼ cup water in glass heatproof bowl, let soften for about 5 minutes. Microwave gelatin mixture for 20-30 seconds until it liquifies, then whisk into the sugar and passionfruit mixture.
- Using a handheld electric mixture, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the passionfruit mixture into the cream.
- Next, clean the mixer beaters completely and whip egg whites and tartar cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the passionfruit mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
- Refrigerate mixture, stirring occasionally, until it starts to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare cake base by making a collar out of parchment paper and tape (see photo above), so that mousse can sit on top of the cake base without leaking over the edges. (You may decide you don't care and simply use the springform to mold the mousse — either way works!)
- Spoon the mousse mixture (it should be thickened a bit) over the cake base. Smooth top and refrigerate cake until set, at least a few hours, but ideally overnight.
- Heat the sugar over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. When it starts to melt, stir with a whisk continuously. When all clumps are gone and all of the sugar is melted, stop whisking. Swirl the pan to move the mixture around to keep it from burning. Cook until it reaches a dark amber color (see photos above). Be careful not to burn the caramel.
- Then, remove the saucepan from heat, add the butter, one piece at a time, and stir well until the butter melts. Pour in the heavy cream, stir well to incorporate, and stir in the salt. Let this mixture cool in the saucepan for 15 minutes or so, then transfer to a jar and cool completely in the fridge. Warm it up slightly if you need it runnier to spread over the cake; in my experience, letting it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes works well.
- This recipe makes one 6-inch cake. You can definitely scale up if you need to, but this should serve 6-8 people reasonably.