Coconut & Passion Fruit Squares

Another coconut one?  Yes, but it’ll be the last one with a coconut theme for a while, I promise.  This one only came about because I had so much coconut milk left over from the can I used to make the Coconut, Basil & Lime Pralines.  Speaking of which – the blog sort of exploded for a couple of days because the pralines were featured on FoodPress.  And I just want to mention that very quickly, because it was a rather weird experience to have your blog go from an average of 0 – 6 views per day to over one hundred (which I’m sure is still ridiculously low for most of you).  And it felt weird, probably even disconcerting, because I didn’t mind – even liked – the relative anonymity in which I’ve led my blog life so far.  I knew most of the regular people who came to visit the blog, and this sudden rush seemed a bit unreal.  Nevertheless, it was nice meeting new people and their blogs via the comments section, and now everything’s back to normal.

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So, coconut milk.  What to do with the remains of the can?  Last year I made these Coconut & Passion Fruit Squares for the first time, and they were divine, if I say so myself.  The recipe is out of delicious magazine (August 2007 issue).  I haven’t been baking for a while – too fed up after the Christmas baking, and then the oven gave up on me during the dinner party in January.  Turned out some electric bit behind the oven switch had burned out, but now that it’s back to working order, there’s no excuse not to bake again more often.

Passion fruit – unopened – aren’t really a pretty kind of fruit.  When you see them for the first time and don’t know they are wrinkled with a fading colour if they’re ripe, you probably wouldn’t look at them twice.  But once you cut them open…  aaah, that smell!  My favourite fruit smell is that of limes, but I found that passion fruit to me smell sort of like a lime with a very sweet touch.  And while baking this cake you won’t want to leave the kitchen because of the sweet passion fruit smell coming out of the oven.

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Coconut & Passion Fruit Squares

125 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
110 g caster sugar
1 medium egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
225 g plain flour, sifted, plus extra
½ tsp baking powder

Top Layer
4 medium eggs
220 g caster sugar
100 g desiccated coconut
50 g plain flour
375 g single cream
160 ml coconut milk
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
8 ripe passion fruit, halved and pulp scooped out
icing sugar, to dust

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Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC in a fan oven).  Line a 30 x 20 x 4 cm deep bak­ing tin with baking paper.  For the pastry, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla, and beat well.  Stir in the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt, until it comes together as a sticky dough.  Press the pastry evenly into the base of the tin.  Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar for a few minutes, until pale.  Add the coconut, flour, cream, coconut milk, lemon zest and juice, and passion fruit pulp, and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly over the pastry base and bake for 40 minutes, until golden.  Cool, then carefully remove from the tin.  [Make sure to wait until it’s completely cooled as it will be quite wobbly coming out of the oven and can’t be cut warm – or else it’ll flow away as it has a pudding-like consistency at first… It will set within about an hour.]

To serve, cut into squares, and dust with icing sugar.  [I tried using different cookie cutters to get some fancy shapes but it wasn’t worth the trouble.  All I got was a right mess.  Guess the recipe says squares for a reason :-)]

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