Passion Fruit Panna Cotta with Coconut Macarons
Passion fruits were my late father’s favourite fruit and mum used to bake the most delicious passion fruit cake. Dad loved the juicy interior and numerous seeds of passion fruits, which as a child I disliked as the seeds got stuck between my teeth, but now I really appreciate these wonderful fruit. Back home in South Africa we call them purple granadilla. They are at their best once the husk is slightly dried and wrinkled. Many people will throw them away when they start to look wrinkled, but for my mum and I that simply means they are then at their best and perfect for baking in dad’s favourite cake.
I like a good panna cotta and the acidity and really strong taste of passion fruits works well with the cream, plus the sugar is just enough to create the perfect balanced flavour combination. The coconut macarons add extra sweetness and these crunchy and crispy meringue-based biscuits add a delicious texture too.
This dessert is easy to make and is best prepared a day in advance. It is also ideal to make for a large party or gathering of folk. The macarons can be made up to 3 days in advance, as they will keep well in an airtight container. The macarons mixture makes more than is needed for this recipe, but just serve the rest with coffee or crush them and combine with whipped cream and sliced fresh strawberries for a delicious Eton mess.
Ingredients & Method
For the coconut macarons
- 2 large egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
- 80g desiccated coconut
For the passion fruit panna cotta
- 275ml double cream
- 200ml milk
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 leaves of gelatine, bloomed (softened in cold water, then squeezed gently to remove excess water)
- 125ml passion fruit juice (made with fresh passion fruits – halve the passion fruits, scoop out the flesh and seeds and push through a sieve, then discard the seeds and keep the juice/pulp – the quantity of passion fruits required will vary as some are more juicy than others) – see also Cook’s Notes
- 2 passion fruits, to serve
First make the macarons. Preheat the oven to 110°C/Gas Mark ¼ and line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. Put the egg whites and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over a low heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar (but do not boil or let the mixture overheat). Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk for 7–8 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy. Fold in the desiccated coconut using a large metal spoon, being careful not to over-mix.
Using a tablespoon, place spoonfuls of the macarons mixture onto the prepared baking sheets and then bake in the oven for about 1 hour, or until dry and crisp but still pale in colour. Remove from the oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheets. Once cool, store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Prepare the panna cotta. Put the cream, milk and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, then add the bloomed gelatine and stir until dissolved. Stir in the passion fruit juice and then pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Divide the mixture equally between 6 chilled dessert glasses. Carefully transfer them to the fridge and leave to set for about 6 hours or preferably overnight.
To serve, halve the 2 passion fruits and scoop out the flesh and seeds, then scatter over the set panna cottas. Place one macaron on top of each dessert and serve immediately.
Rather than making your own juice from fresh passion fruits, shop-bought chilled fresh unsweetened passion fruit juice can be used instead, if you like. Chilled fresh unsweetened mango juice can also be used in place of passion fruit juice and is equally as delicious.