Curd Your Enthusiasm, Martha! Coconut Cookies With Passion Fruit Curd! -197 eggs, 154 cups of sugar, 148 sticks of Butter, and 187 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 64 recipes to go!

March 20, 2011

Martha's Coconut Cookies With Passion Fruit Curd

André's Coconut Cookies With Passion Fruit Curd

Every now and then Martha has a recipe that includes an ingredient that no one has ever had in their pantry… ever! Such a recipe is Martha’s Coconut Cookies with Passion Fruit Curd and the elusive ingredient in question is Passion Fruit Purée. Since starting this whackadoodle cookie challenge, I’ve been on the lookout for this tangy liquid. It’s sold as a mixer for cocktails and only a couple of companies produce and distribute it in the States. I searched all of Kansas City as well as keeping a lookout for it during trips this past year to New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles with no luck. I was resigned to having to purchase this purée online. I didn’t like this idea because a liter of this stuff costs $4.99 and the shipping costs would have been $12.99.

On a recent vacation in Scottsdale, Arizona, I happened to drive by a BevMo. BevMo is a franchised liquor superstore that has been setting up shop throughout the Western U.S.  and is quickly spreading eastward. I knew from my online searches for Passion Fruit Purée that BevMo carried it. Out of curiosity, I stopped by the store to see if it happened to be on their shelves. I think I actually heard angels singing when I saw it shining like a beacon atop the mixers shelf. I had found my Holy Grail and it was filled with passion fruit! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I purchased it immediately and decided to bake up a batch of these at our friend’s house while we were still in Scottsdale so I wouldn’t have to travel with a bottle of Passion Fruit mixer and risk it exploding in my suitcase.

The day turned out to be a comedy of errors. My partner, Dan and I had just spent three days relaxing at a resort and then planned to spend the next three days with our friends, Jen, Zach and their two kids. Dan worked with Jen at Saks FIfth Avenue years ago and had remained close to her and her family through the years. Jen and Dan planned a day trip for some much-needed retail therapy while Zach planned on taking the kids to go see a movie at the cinema around the block. That left me alone to bake in a foreign kitchen. I ran to the grocery store to  purchase a few things I needed like unsweetened coconut flakes, unsalted butter and a dozen eggs. Jen and Zach had everything else I needed in their kitchen or growing on their beautiful citrus trees outside. Lemons, limes, oranges, figs and pomegranates to name a few of the fresh fruits Jen and Zach effortlessly grew in their backyard. This is one of the many benefits of living in a warm climate. Am I jealous? You betcha!

When I returned from the grocery store I found the house locked. I went through the gate to the backyard and the back door was locked, too. Zach had taken the kids and out of habit, locked me out of the house. While I tugged at the backdoor my hand slipped dropping the bag containing the dozen eggs. Every egg broke. I called Dan who told Jen who then called Zach who told her to call me to meet him at the entrance of the movie theatre where he would hand me the house keys. Leaving the bags at the back door, I hopped in my cheap rental car and zoomed over to the movie theatre. I texted Zach to meet me at the entrance. He handed the keys off to me with an apology and I zoomed back to the house where the unsalted butter had been slowly melting in the desert sun.

This was no longer a recipe at this point. It was a vendetta. This cookie had been a thorn in my side since the day I began the search for Passion Fruit Purée and now it seemed as though the cookie gods had aligned themselves against me. Come hell or high water, I was determined to have Coconut Cookies With Passion Fruit Curd on the table, fully assembled by the time Jen and Dan got back. I poured myself an extra-strong bourbon and seven to calm my nerves and began putting the recipe together. Don’t judge. I’ve never gotten a B.U.I. (baking under the influence).

First up was the making of the curd. “Curd” is not a very appetizing term. I imagine it’s etymology lies with the Anglo Saxons. I don’t trust a culture that names their desserts “Treacle” or “Spotted Dick.” I think a better choice of words would have been “Custard.” Custard  just sounds like something you’d want to eat. Anyhoo- the passion fruit curd is made from passion fruit purée, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, sugar, butter and egg yolks whisked together over medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. The curd is then placed in the refrigerator to cool into a thick pudding consistency.

While the curd was cooling I prepared the cookies. Butter, flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla and flaked coconut are combined to a thick dough which is rolled out and cut into circles. I have to say, I was impressed with the number of cookie-cutters our friend, Jen had in her pantry. Just about every shape and size except, of course, a simple circle. Instead, I found a fluted champagne glass which was the perfect diameter to shape these cookies. I threw them in the oven and allowed them to brown up a bit. Once removed and completely cooled, I topped one half of the cookies with the passion fruit curd and sandwiched another cookie on top. After all the cookies were filled and assembled, I gave them each a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Success! Everyone showed up just after I shot the photo above.

How were they?

They certainly taste very tropical with the coconut combined with the tartness of the passion fruit curd. That said, they just weren’t worth the effort. The flavors aren’t as intense as the list of ingredients would have you believe. Our friends were kind and very complimentary  but I noticed no one went back for a second cookie during our three-day stay. The children, particularly the five-year-old thought they were icky. She took one bite and spit it out into the garbage can. She gave me a look like I had tricked her into eating dirt. She begrudgingly thanked me for the cookie when her mother told her she had to but I think a bit of trust was broken between us. I guess there’s a life-lesson to be learned here although I’m at a loss as to what that lesson might be.

All I can say is that Martha sent me on a year-long mission to procure an elusive ingredient in order to make a cookie that breaks the hearts of little girls. This sounds like the opening of a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, doesn’t it?

So, there you have it. Coconut Cookies with Passion Fruit Curd has been struck from my list. I can now stop asking for passion fruit purée in every store and just shop like a normal person with only 64 cookie recipes left to go.

Sorry there’s no story with this cookie. Just baking this cookie was enough as far as I’m concerned. During the rest of our visit we added leftover passion fruit purée to fresh-squeezed orange juice and vodka.  I call  this cocktail, “A Martha’s Revenge” and it’s far better than the cookie.

By the way, once the baking was done I noticed in small print at the bottom of the recipe that I could have substituted lemon juice if I couldn’t find any passion fruit purée.

After a couple of Martha’s Revenges I decided not to tell anyone.


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