Spending months over the past 9 years at Brazil's Cristalino Jungle Lodge has allowed me to get to know the rather large repertoire of their kitchen, and all of has been good. But this particular dessert was one recipe I had to have, so I wrote down what my friend and cook Arlene did and modified it for our ingredients and the way I've learned how to make mousse. I've made it for several potlucks and get-togethers with friends, and most recently people enjoyed it at the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count compilation.
It has also made a regular appearance in my menus for the week-long WINGS tour at Gambell, Alaska, for which I am cook. In the past I've brought the passionfruit juice concentrate home from my trips to Brazil, but recently I discovered a lone source of it here in Tucson! Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket has a small Brazilian section in one of its aisles, and they even have Goya brand frozen passionfruit pulp.
Cristalino Jungle Lodge Passionfruit Mousse
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup whole milk
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (1/2 of a 500-ml bottle) Maguary brand passionfruit juice concentrate
1 cup heavy cream
1 fresh passionfruit or 1/2 cup frozen passionfruit pulp, thawed (optional)
1. Dissolve gelatin in the boiling water, stirring gently until completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Chill heavy cream, a medium mixing bowl, and hand mixer attachment in a freezer for 5-10 minutes while performing step 2 below.
2. Put milk into a blender, and with the motor running on high (cover when you start to keep it from splattering at first), gradually pour in sweetened condensed milk, followed by juice concentrate. Slowly pour in cooled gelatin solution and continue to blend on high for another minute or two until thickening and a slightly frothier consistency is noticed. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
4. Whip cream at medium speed in chilled bowl until beginning to thicken, about 15-30 seconds, then whip on high speed for another 45-60 seconds until soft peaks form. It will take longer if the cream is not very cold, but be careful not to over-whip and cause the butter to separate. Gently fold whipped cream into milk-juice mixture until no white streaks remain.
5. Pour into 9 X 9 inch square dish, cover surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
6. Just before serving, remove plastic wrap and spread passionfruit pulp (including seeds if using fresh fruit) on surface of mousse for an added punch of tart flavor.
Master Chef Arlene Levandoski is one of the few employees of Cristalino Jungle Lodge who wasn't afraid to hold a Boa constrictor that I found on the lodge grounds in September, 2011.