Written in October 2012
In the same farmers market trip for the peaches, a stand with smaller boxes than others caught my eye as I strolled. It looked as if the farmer looked at her garden and chose a select few. Sure, they were generic things like plums, apricots…but then there was these…wrinkly things. They looked like dates. Small and puny. Mostly visually unappealing.
“Passionfruit. The wrinkled ones are usually the ripest,” she said and then turned to a man fingering produce in a box nearby.
Like most Americans, I only knew passionfruit as the orange-y liquid thing found in juice—sometimes formulated into an icy creation in classy restaurants. Hand-picked Gem lettuce leaf with a single wedge of heirloom tomato dotted with passionfruit vingarette
I doubted her conclusions and paused. Standing there, I stroked my phone. Tap tap to find out what I could do with passionfruit. Accepting that my phone’s data decided suddenly not to work in a pivotal moment, I gave in. I selected the ones that seemed…good. They were so light. As I shook them, they seemed to be hollow. Perhaps a few seemed to have something inside. Yet, I was no expert and I trusted her.
“Ok, we’ll take these,” I gestured to seven passionfruit.
Unsure whether to trust her and also uncertain of how soon I’ll get around to making the ice cream, I chose the ones that were less wrinkled. They were almost smooth with a lovely gradient of purple that extended across the thick unedible skin.
At home, I realized my folly. The passionfruit was not enough on its own (my bunch of passionfruit sadly averaged to no more than 10 seeds each). I wanted a bit more than 7 passionfruits, but the farmers market was closed. I searched online for something that would add additional flavor to the ice cream while complementing and not overpowering the strengths of passionfruit.
Earlier in the week, I had visited my mom who had recently underwent surgery. Sorrow gripped my heart as I watched my mom—the quintessential dragon lady who used to make loud demands to store keepers and fearlessly moved to the states just because—moving about in pain. As we shared a lunch of ravioli that I purchased near my apartment in the city, she suddenly said, “You must have the mango ice cream that I got from Lunardi’s.”
Ignoring the pain (the one seemingly painless moment that afternoon), she hobbled quickly to the freezer. Then magically, she produced two spoons as she sat back down at the kitchen table. Opening the plastic carton, she dug a scoop of mango ice cream into her bowl. Using the same spoon, she licked the ice cream in glory. (My family did not use ice cream scoops; however, nowadays I abhor the idea of bending my spoons.)
“Look at this big mango chunk,” she said and took another bite. “I can’t believe that they did made such a stupid mistake, but I am so glad that they did.”
Mango. Simple answer. It is the most popular flavor at the first shop that interviewed at Mitchells. At my last office job, one of my good friends would always take the lonely mango from the fruit box. Unlike the peaches, the pears, the apples, the oranges…this mango was always the last to go, rotting in loneliness or picked up by my friend who missed the mangos from her home country of the Philippines.
As I constructed the recipe, nothing online really matched what I was seeking in terms of ingredients (fresh instead of juiced or canned), so this one in particular is a bit of experimentation…and magic.
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
Pulp from 7-8 whole passionfruit including seeds (if not wrinkly, let the passionfruit sit in direct sunlight; after 8 hours, the passionfruit should be ripe)
1 whole mango
In a medium pot, heat the milk, heavy cream and sugar until simmering over medium heat. Remove from heat.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed mixture. Whisk the mixture after every cup. Return the contents into the pot and place over medium heat. Stir frequently. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Stir the passionfruit pulp into the mixture. A little passionfruit juice will strongly flavor the mixture. If you wish, you can strain out the seeds, but the seeds add texture to the ice cream. If desired, reserve some of the pulp (or whole passionfruit) to serve over scoops of ice cream once ready to serve.
For best results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator to let the passionfruit intensify the mixture.
Slice up the mango into bite-size cubes (if you need help, read this or this). Or alternatively, you can roughly chop the mango to offer surprise big mango pieces, which my mom will surely love. We want to add this fruit halfway through churning (although you can do this prior to churning) to reduce freezing interference.
Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.