I don’t know if it’s her age, her cute, quirky personality or just that we are both food obsessed, but I am having so much fun cooking and baking with Lily lately.
The other day she leaned her head down on her hand, looked at me with this happy, but intense look and said, “Mascarpone and meringue, what’s that other ‘M’ food word?” For some reason in that moment, I couldn’t name one other “M” food word; all I could do was stare at her cute freckles and those sparkly, blue eyes and think, you are too cool for words, kid. Where do you come up with these questions?
Early that morning at breakfast she tasted her Wild Sweet Orange tea with honey, scrunched up her face and said, “My tea tastes weird this morning, different somehow, like there’s dirt in it.”
I looked into her cup, “Well there aren’t any tea leaves in there, maybe it’s the raw honey. Sometimes the bottom of the jar gets kind of gritty.” I could see her brain working trying to solve the puzzle, her amazing food pallet tinkering away.
A few weeks ago I discovered a grocery store here in Bangor that I hadn’t been to yet. It’s part of a chain, but newer and bigger. And when I entered, the produce department — all gorgeously colorful, clean and bright — stood so proudly before me, I almost wept. This, I thought, this is where I could shop every day. It was the beginning of March and they had fresh strawberries like you’d pick from your garden in June. The citrus display developed before my eyes, Instagrammed and filtered to perfection. And the fresh herbs were Ireland green. Yeah, it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with food.
What especially caught my eye was the wooden bin of passion fruit. Okay, I know passion fruit in Maine in the middle of winter sounds ridiculous. I’m sure the fruit traveled over 4,000 miles to get here from somewhere sunny like South America or New Zealand, but I absolutely bought some.
I’d drooled over passion fruit creme brûlée before, but that’s as close as this goddess and I had ever come. Lily loves weird and exotic fruit. Sometimes she’ll just look at images of dragon fruit, star fruit and passion fruit online and dream of things to make with them, or places to travel where these luscious fruits grow.
As soon as she got home from school that afternoon, Lily cut the passion fruit open, scooped out the fleshy liquidy insides and used a spoon to force the juice through a strainer. The juice sat in a bowl in our fridge covered with Saran wrap for two days before she decided what she wanted to make with it. Every time I opened the fridge it was like I was transported to a balmy tropical island watching the sun set, cocktail in hand. The aroma was divine!
I kept hinting at her, “Creme brûlée, passion fruit creme brûlée” But she took her time, as this kid of mine does, processing and thinking deeply about every option. Finally she jumped up one evening and said, “I know! We should make scones this weekend with a passion fruit glaze to drizzle on them.”
So we did. We used Pamela’s Recipe for Gluten Free Scones, but instead of currants we added frozen, wild, Maine blueberries. And Lily and I made the glaze, the most amazing passion fruit glaze!
We gobbled those scones up for breakfast, and for lunch, and every time we made a pass through the kitchen until they were gone. So much for leftovers! I mean the scent alone of that tropical, citrusy sweet glaze melting over the warm scones. We pretty much licked the tray when they were gone.
And then, because that wasn’t nearly enough, the next day I made another batch of macarons with the sole purpose of filling them with a passion fruit buttercream filling.
Lily and I used this basic and perfect Lemon Buttercream recipe to begin with. Then we tweaked it to include passion fruit juice instead of lemon juice. When we tasted it, Lily and I both agreed, even with the passion fruit flavor, it also needed a hint of lemon juice to brighten it.
I’ll be honest, I never think of myself as a baker, as someone who enjoys making frostings and sweet fillings, but baking with my kids has changed that. I now dream out loud with Lily about what kind of macaron we are going to make next, what kind of passion fruit dessert we’ll try on the weekend, or how many layers our newest cake should be. With Jasper always chiming in, “Let there be chocolate!” to whatever decisions we make.
Greg and I were going to do a cleanse during the month of March, but instead we’ve been making Baked Alaska with the kids, filling failed macaron batches with ice cream, stuffing our faces with scones covered in the best passion fruit glaze ever. And I’m not one bit sorry.
Lily helped me pick the photos for this post too. The photo below was her favorite. I’m having a creative blast with my girl; I hope it never goes away.
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons passion fruit juice (can include seeds)
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Stir together powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons passion fruit juice. Stir in lemon juice. Add more passion fruit juice as needed to make a glaze that drizzles slowly from the spoon. About 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons total.
- Drizzle or spread over scones, cookies or cakes. Or just eat it right from the spoon because it is that delicious!!