Have you ever tasted lilikoi before? You’re probably shaking your head no, rolling your eyes, and thinking something like, “I can’t even pronounce that, much less taste it.” But odds are that you have (and you can: LILY-coy) and for those of you in the know, it’s delicious.
When I first moved here, I stayed at a hotel that was across the street from this incredible French pastry shop that smelled just like my school (shout out to the French Pastry School for being the very best smelling place I’ve ever been to!), so I followed my nose inside. To my amazement this patisserie combined local tropical flavors with classic French baking and that’s where I had my first bite of lilikoi brioche #BreakfastOfChampions and I was hooked! I had to ask the kid behind the counter what lilikoi was, and he very simply stated that it’s passion fruit. That was a generalization of it, but yes it is in fact a type of passion fruit. Lilikoi is yellow where other passion fruits are purple, but essentially it’s all the same. Some of the tasty ways that I’ve been served lilikoi here is in cocktails, as a cheesecake, and as a butter served with the bread basket at restaurants – it may sound weird but the lilikoi tanginess coupled with the smooth, creaminess of the butter smeared onto a warm slice of bread could have been a whole meal all by itself!
As you can see, when the fruit is sliced open, there are small seeded pods inside and although in my opinion it doesn’t look especially appetizing, you can in fact dig in to the fruit just like this. And I promise that it’s extremely satisfying.
I was chatting with some of my friends a few months ago as we were trying to determine what type of macarons we wanted to make together. One of my dear lady friends shouted, “LILIKOI!!” immediately, but I didn’t have any lilikoi recipes and it seems that none of us know where to obtain them (I’ve searched every grocery store that I know about on this island and cannot seem to locate them).
But as luck would have it, the facilities crew at my job cut down all of the vines that were creeping over the fences, and as my coworker passed by he realized that there were several almost ripe lilikoi among the vines, so he promptly rescued them and brought them to me! Once they became fully ripe (which took much longer than I expected) I searched for a few recipes and finally landed on a lilikoi curd, which is made just like a lemon curd, but is more tart in my opinion and I LOVED it! The seeds are entirely edible and add a nice crunch to the silky smooth curd, but also make for an interesting visual 😉
Now with this beautiful lilikoi curd on hand (but no idea what to do with it) I froze it so I could figure something out before it spoiled. Not even a day later, a friend from the mainland who had told me before that he and his girlfriend would be flying in for a vacation, contacted me again to ask if I could make a cake for her since they were landing on her birthday. Of course I agreed to do it!! He also asked for me to include some local flavors because they’re adventurous eaters and want to try new things. While lilikoi certainly isn’t new, it seemed to be exactly what he was asking for so together we decided on a vanilla cake with lilikoi filling.
I don’t know if you watch cake design trends, but fault line cakes are so hot right now! They are meant to look like the top and bottom of the cake were split apart to reveal a pretty inner design. Just last night I decided to bake an extra layer of cake to put in between my usual 4 layers so I could test out this new style. It’s beautiful, but I of course had to pick the most challenging design, and then proceeded to do things the hard way. Really I should have waited until the last outer layer of frosting was firmly set before adding the fun details like sprinkles and leaves because they stick out so far and make it nearly impossible to smooth the frosting, but it’s what I did.
So a quick note to anyone out there dying to try a fault line design like I was: maybe start with something flat like sprinkles, then progress to the type of design that has far more texture and requires an extra, slimmer layer of cake in the middle because of the depth of the design elements. Most cake artists paint the fault line with silver or gold edible paint for some added depth, and I chose to do the same thing in gold to match the pink, purple, and gold sprinkle mix I decorated the cake with.
Ok I gotta cut this session short because I’m about to meet up with the birthday girl to give her this tasty cake!