Dear SOS: Café Brasil in West L.A. has an amazing passion fruit mousse. I just returned from Brazil and even there didn't taste one as good. I now live in New York and have really been missing my favorite dessert! Is there any way you can get their recipe?
Santa Monica / NYC
Dear Aviva: With its cloud-like texture and fresh, bright passion fruit flavor, this dessert is a sure winner. It's a perfect dessert to make ahead of time for company too. Just whip it up and refrigerate it until you're ready to serve. (That, or just keep a stash of it on hand for when you need your own fix.)
Café Brasil's passion fruit mousse (Mousse de Maracuja)
Total time: 25 minutes, plus chilling time
Note: Adapted from Café Brasil in Los Angeles. Superfine sugar is also referred to as baker's sugar and can be found at well-stocked markets and cooking and baking supply stores. Fresh passion fruit might sometimes be hard to find due to seasonality and related availability; unsweetened passion fruit concentrate is a great substitute. Unsweetened passion fruit concentrate can be found at select cooking and Brazilian markets, as well as at well-stocked Latin sections in select supermarkets. It is also available online.
1/2 cup strained fresh passion fruit juice, from about 14 passion fruits or 1/2 cup unsweetened concentrate, divided
1/2 envelope unflavored gelatin powder, about 1 1/8 teaspoons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar, divided
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
Fresh passion fruit seeds, for garnish, optional
1. If using fresh fruit, halve the fruit and strain the pulp through a fine sieve, rubbing to remove the pulp from the seeds. Wash the seeds in water, then dry on a paper towel. They will be used to garnish the mousse.
2. Place 2 tablespoons purée or juice concentrate in a small, nonreactive heavy-bottom saucepan and sprinkle over the gelatin to moisten. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring, just until the gelatin is dissolved and no lumps remain. Remove from heat and place the mixture in a medium bowl.
3. Add the remaining juice to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the evaporated milk and one-fourth cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Place the mixture over an ice bath and stir until chilled and slightly thickened. Remove from the ice bath.
4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining one-fourth cup sugar and beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
5. Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture to the chilled passion fruit mixture and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the remaining meringue, one-third at a time, careful not to over-mix.
6. Spoon the mousse into individual margarita or stemmed glasses and chill. Sprinkle with the optional reserved passion fruit seeds before serving.
Each serving: 120 calories; 4 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 8 mg. cholesterol; 22 grams sugar; 72 mg. sodium.