A sunny Saturday spent wandering the Ferry Building farmers market in SF yielded a fantastic discovery: fresh passion fruit! It's rare to find them in their fresh form, especially in the cities I've lived in; they often show up in tropical juice blends and in frozen form. California's fresh produce really is second to none. It was a nice surprise and exactly the inspiration I'd been missing for the past few months.
Passion fruit has a syrupy, tropical aroma-- it's hard to describe. While the pulp smells sweet, it's very sour, so it works best in creamy applications. It also has many hard black seeds which are edible, but not pleasant to chew on. Passion fruit is typically used in desserts (mousses, ganache, and panna cotta), but I recently had passion fruit-browned butter carrots at the newly opened TBD restaurant; I didn't know carrots could taste so good.
The last time I made panna cotta, the recipe called for gelatin sheets. This one uses powdered gelatin which is much easier to find. I think passion fruit is my new favourite panna cotta flavour. The tropical fruitiness balances the smooth and creamy dessert perfectly. I wish passion fruit were easier to find, but I guess the rarity makes it a special treat.
Recipe after the jump!