|"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." Ernestine Ulmer|
Who doesn't love dessert? In a less health-obsessed world, dessert could be considered the whole reason to eat dinner. There are the easy desserts (fruit salad, piece of candy, jello), the more involved ones (cookies, cakes, pies, baked fruits) and the extremely complicated ones (profiteroles, dessert soufflés, crêpes suzette — basically, anything French). Here in Brazil, when we have our Brazilian friends over to dinner I find I like making the American apple desserts — apple pie, apple crisp, apple crumb, apple cobbler — just to be a little different. Or I'll make a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies and watch them disappear before anyone can say "Tollhouse." And there's nothing like a good, Cointreau-infused chocolate mousse to get people asking plaintively for seconds. But there is one dessert I do repeatedly that is hands-down the biggest crowd pleaser in my repertoire. It's Brazilian comfort food, it takes minutes to prepare, it's called mousse de maracujá (that's passion fruit), and it's tart and tangy and silky and sweet all at the same time. It's a real plate-licker and even here in Brazil, where everyone makes it, people marvel over my version. And I got my best tips, oddly enough, from a Chilean.
Blend together one box of sweetened condensed milk, one box (a box, not a can, you don't want any water) of creme de leite*, and one cup of concentrated passion fruit juice.**
When the mixture hardens a bit (after ten minutes or so), cut open two old, ugly passion fruits (the oldest and ugliest you can find) . . .
. . . and put the seeds and pulp on the top of your mousse.
Place back into the fridge. It's best the same day, but it's still plenty good after two or three days.
|Mouths water . . .|
|. . . and eyes well up with tears|
*creme de leite — This is a very difficult ingredient to find in the States and in Europe. Some people will tell you to use heavy cream — don't! It's not the same, not at all. Creme de leite is considerably sweeter than heavy cream, and has a different consistency. But if you want to try and make this dessert and can't find creme de leite, look for "media crema" in your neighborhood bodega. I'm told it's the perfect substitute, a cream manufactured by Nestlé in Mexico.
**concentrated passion fruit juice — As for this item, you can probably find it in that same bodega, or even in a well-stocked supermarket.