Ube-Passionfruit-Coconut Cake

This recipe came about because I had ube paste, coconut milk, and fresh passionfruit, all of which I wanted to use, and preferably together. Ube(pronounced oo-beh) is a Filipino purple yam that is sweet and nutty in flavor. Almost like if you took a purple yam and toasted it with brown butter. Ube is a yam that cannot be grown outside of the Philippines, and is normally found in the forms of powder, extract, or paste as such. It is almost exclusively used in desserts – I have not too any savory ube applications, truthfully, but if I were to wager a bet, I would assume that it can be interchangeably used with taro. In the case of this recipe, I used the ube paste in a mousse, and ube powder in tulips, and ube powder in a cream, just to carry through the purple color. With the passionfruit, I might have mentioned it before, but I am lucky enough to have a family friend with a passionfruit tree, so I get spoiled with passionfruit all the time. What I love about passionfruit is that it is crunchy, sweet, sour, and pairs beautifully with neutral to richer flavors, which ube and coconut are. Coconut is an ingredient super commonly paired with ube, because it adds a more mild flavor, while also introducing fat and richness to a dessert. In the case of this recipe, the moment I decided to use coconut, I had to make it gluten-free, since I had coconut flour, and that would just add another pleasant coconut flavor to the sponge. I have made gluten-free coconut madeleines in the past, and I personally love them, so I figured, why not use a similar recipe and/or method to that one in this cake?

For the components, we have an ube mousse, gluten-free coconut cake, passionfruit glee, coconut milk glaze, ube whip, ube-coconut tuiles, and Passionfruit Inspiration butterflies. There are a lot of components to this dessert, and arguably everything beyond the passionfruit glee is purely decorative, but I love my desserts with their bells and whistles. In this case, the bells are whistles include making an ube-coconut tuile batter, and using Pavoni butterfly molds to shape them, and making Passionfruit Inspiration modeling chocolate, and shaping those into butterflies as well. Originally I was also going to sprinkle some konpeitou(Japanese rock sugar candies) onto the finished cake as well, but I decided against it because I felt like the shape of those candies are meant to be more befitting of a spaced themed dessert instead of something that more or less represents the summer-friendly climate we have here in LA. With the butterflies, there is this summery feel that adds to the pleasant aesthetic of the dessert. With this dessert, you have a lot of different steps that need to be taken into consideration, i.e. getting the jellies set first, then pushed into the mousse, along with the cooled down cake. But once you get those components in order, it becomes a very easy process to streamline! For me, mirror glazed mousse cakes are something that comes naturally, just because I have been doing them for years now. But for anyone who has never done them before, this cake is a good introduction to the process of them!

For the passionfruit jellies:
Pulp and seeds from 5 passionfruit
2 tsp agar agar
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar

Bring everything to a simmer until the agar, salt, and sugar are dissolved into the pulp. Pour the mixture into silicone half sphere molds and a lined 5-inch ring mold. Freeze the jellies solid, about 45 minutes, and keep in the freezer after molding, until time for assembly.

For the coconut cake:
3 tbsp coconut oil + more for your pan
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 egg
2/3 cups coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 tbsp coconut milk

Start by whipping together your coconut oil, granulated sugar, baking powder, soda, vanilla, and salt until light and airy. Whip in your egg. Sift your coconut flour with the xanthan gum. Whisk in the flours and coconut milk. Pour your batter into a lined sheet tray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even baking. Cut out a 5-inch ring and a 4-inch ring out of the cakes.

For the ube mousse:
2 tsp gelatin powder + 2 tbsp water
3oz coconut milk
6oz ube paste
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff

In a pot, mix gelatin with water. Add to that the coconut milk, ube, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer. Whisk constantly just to break down the ube paste faster. Pass through a sieve once the mixture is reduced down to a loose paste and mix into that the vanilla extract first. Once the ube mixture is cooled down enough, fold into that the heavy cream.

For initial assembly:
Line a 6-inch ring mold with cling wrap and cooking spray. Lay down the half-spheres of the passionfruit jelly first, placing them flat side down. Pour on 1/3 of the ube mousse. Then add in the round of passionfruit jelly. Then add on another 1/3 of the mousse. Place on the 4-inch ring of cake, then the remaining mousse, then the remaining cake. Freeze for at least 2 hours before attempting to unmold the cake.

For the ube tuiles:
1 tbsp ube paste(can sub with 1 tbsp taro/ube powder + 1 tbsp water)
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp egg white powder
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp cold water
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk everything together until combined. Pour the tuile into Pavoni butterfly molds and spread in a thin, even layer. Bake the tuiles at 300 degrees F for 8 minutes. Carefully remove the tuiles from the molds, as they are quite fragile!

For the coconut glaze:
6oz coconut milk

For the ube chantilly:
1 tbsp ube/taro powder
1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ube extract*

Whip everything together to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip.

For the passionfruit butterflies:
2oz Passionfruit Inspiration
.5oz corn syrup
a pinch of salt

Melt everything together over a double boiler. Allow the mixture to cool down completely before kneading into a thin layer on a nonstick surface. Cut out butterfly shapes.

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