Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Love Lilikoi

One of the many things I love about Honua Lani Gardens is that they are preparing to participate in a new farmer's market at the community college. This market specializes in value added products, and I've been working a lot in the kitchen to perfect some new recipes to preserve and sell all the lovely fruits and vegetables that are pouring out of the garden. Lots of time in the kitchen cooking delicious new treats...that's my idea of heaven on earth!

Here's my favorite so far, adapted from the French Laundry lemon tart recipe which I've been using for years and found on my favorite recipe site, Epicurious. Lilikoi is the Hawaiian word for passion fruit and it is nature's version of a sour skittle...sweet and sour and super fruity delicious. The skin is either yellow or purple, and inside it has bright orange pulp with big crunchy black seeds. You just cut it in half and scoop out all the wonderful goodness...kind of like nature's own perfect fruit cup. It has become one of my favorite fruits and, lucky me, you can find the vines growing on the side of the road all over the islands. The beautiful flowers are also a bonus. On the mainland, you will probably only be able to find passion fruit juice concentrate, which unfortunately won't really work for this recipe since it almost always comes pre-sweetened. Lemon or lime juice will work just fine instead, OR you could grown your own lilikoi vine...definitely easy to grow in moderate climates!


Macnut Crust

  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a cupcake pan with disposable cupcake liners. Grind the macnuts in a food processor, adding some of the flour as necessary, until finely ground. The macnuts are pretty oily and will stick to the blades without the flour. Mix the rest of the ingredients and the crushed macnuts in a large bowl. Press the mixture into the cupcake liners, making sure to generously fill each one; if the sides and bottom are too thin, the tarts will break easily. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Remove from oven to cool.

Lilikoi Sabayon
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 2 large egg yolks, cold
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lilikoi juice
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

To prepare the lilikoi juice, halve about 5 or six fresh lilikoi and scoop the contents (pulp and seeds) into a blender or food processor. Blend for just a few seconds to release the juice from the pulp and seeds. If you blend for too long, the seeds will crush and bits of seed will be mixed in with the juice. Strain juice to remove the seeds and pulp and discard everything besides the juice.

Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl (or smaller pot) you will be using for the sabayon. Meanwhile, in a metal bowl (or smaller pot), whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.

Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lilikoi juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lilikoi juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lilikoi juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the macnut cups and allow to cool in the refrigerator. If you like, garnish with fresh or candied hibiscus flowers.


  • Normally this type of tart is quickly broiled to brown the top and set the custard. Since the cups are so small, I find that there is no need to set the custard any further. It reminds me of the inside of a rum ball and I like the contrasting textures of the crumbly crust and drippy custard.
  • You will have a bit of sabayon custard left over after assembling the tartlets. It's very similar to lemon curd and makes a great spread for toast or crackers.

Lilikoi on Foodista

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