I think we can all agree that unless you live in a pool, this east coast heat sucks. Sorry, that was crude – it’s unpleasant. Especially if, like me, you hate wearing shorts. It’s a sensory issue. So, unless the building is on fire or I run out of food, I’m not leaving my air-conditioned haven. Thus, I’ve had plenty of time to sit around and daydream.
With the Olympics just around the corner, I’ve been increasingly reminded of my trip to Rio almost two years ago. One of my dearest friends, Emma, moved to Rio for a gap year after high school and never left (except for a brief stint in Edinburgh, which we don’t like to talk about because she’s still reeling from the cold).
After visiting her charming jungle abode, I get it. Rio is one of the most beautiful and lively cities I’ve been to. And August in Rio is amazing. August in Rio > maybe anything else. Their “winter” weather is a dream – cool enough to wear a sweater in the morning and warm enough to wear a bikini in the afternoon. It’s lovely.
Rio is also home to a vibrant food scene. I was especially fond of this little ceviche place in Ipanema. Two years later it continues to be one of my all-time favorite meals. I can't remember ever tasting anything so perfectly bright or fresh, and the accompanying flavors - lively and indescribable - are ones I couldn't ever hope to replicate. But what really made this meal so special were the maracuya "passion fruit" pisco sours. It took just one sip to become a full-blown passion fruit devotee (of course, I had about 60 more sips just to be sure). Now, whenever I see them on a menu, I feel compelled to order one. Unsurprisingly, none have come close to the original. The fact that passion fruit grow in Brazil probably has something to do with it…
To avoid further disappointment, I decided to use the same flavors to create something completely different. These passion fruit-filled lace cookies are light & crisp, tart & sweet – the essence of the summer weather I'm dreaming about.
Oh, and for anyone planning a trip to Rio, Emma's blog, Simbora, is a FANTASTIC resource for discovering all that Rio has to offer.
Gluten Free Passion Fruit Lace Cookies
(Makes one dozen)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup almond flour
Swiss Meringue Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Style Sweet CA's Passion Fruit Curd
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup passion fruit pulp (from about 2 to 3 passion fruits)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
Passion fruit curd:
- Place the diced butter in a heat-safe bowl and set aside.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a heat-safe bowl or the top portion of a double-boiler. Whisk to combine.
- Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the bowl with the passion fruit mixture on top to create a double-boiler. Stirring often, gently heat the mixture to about 160 to 170 degrees. This may take about 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture should thicken as it heats. When ready, a line drawn on the back of a spoon should hold.
- Once hot and thick, pour the passion fruit curd mixture over the butter. Stir until the butter melts and incorporates. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cool and thickened, about 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together until the butter has melted and the mixture begins to bubble.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Stir in the vanilla extract, salt and egg.
- Add in the oats and almond flour and stir until completely combined. Let sit on the counter for 10 minutes. This will allow the dough to thicken up a bit.
- Drop teaspoon sized balls of cookie dough onto the sheet pan. They spread a lot so make sure to leave enough space between cookies. I baked 9 at a time instead of 12.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
- Fill a small saucepan with 2 inches of water and place on high heat over the stove. Allow water to come to a boil.
- Thoroughly clean and dry the bowl of the electric mixer you used to make the cookie dough. This is extremely important to ensure the egg whites whip to their maximum volume.
- Whisk together the sugar, water, egg whites, and corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Place on top of the saucepan of boiling water and continue whisking until the egg white mixture reaches a temperature of 140 degrees.
- Remove from heat and fix the bowl on the electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment.
- Whip the egg white mixture on high speed for approximately seven minutes or until it is light, fluffy and nearly cool.
- On slow speed, beat in the vanilla and pinch of salt.
- Place into a piping bag.
- Match up the cookies in pairs that are of a similar size.
- On the bottom of one cookie, pipe a thin layer of swiss meringue.
- On the bottom of its pair, spread a thin layer of passion fruit curd.
- Sandwich together.
- Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.
- Enjoy same day - any longer and they get a bit soggy.