We are lucky to be living in a tropical country where passion fruit is not only abundant, but very reasonable, about 20 cents each. In Boquete, Panama, we can purchase them in at least three colors.

The passion fruit is round to oval, either yellow, green or purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with pulp and numerous edible seeds. The fruit can be grown to be eaten or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance the aroma.

David and I grew passion flower vines in Gulfport, Florida, but we never saw them produce fruit. The delicate flowers are magnificent and there is a legend that relates the passion flower to Christ’s life, as told on Wikipedia. I always loved to show guests the vines and unusual flowers, at least they are unusual in Florida.

The fruit in this photo is mature for juicing and culinary use. For eating right out of the fruit, the fruit should be allowed to wrinkle for a few days to raise the sugar levels and enhance the flavor.

Passion fruit can also be cut in half and the pulp easily scooped out with a spoon. Passion fruit-flavored syrup is a popular topping for shaved ice, it’s sold in Boquete off push carts in our local parks.  Ice cream can be flavored with passion fruit, as well as many other desserts such as cookies and cakes. I really enjoy passion fruit juice at 99 cents a quart, mixed with our local rum, it’s a very “passionate” drink!

This unique recipe came to me from Boquete Gourmet Host Chef Juan Linares, and it’s one of my favorite desserts.

Passion Fruit and Yogurt Torte

1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1 can natural yogurt
1 can passion fruit pulp, strained
3 rolls Maria galletas (cookies) or 3 packages Graham crackers

Open and empty the can of sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl. To prepare the passion fruit, cut the fruit in half and scoop out the pulp into a blender. Blend and strain enough pulp to fill the empty milk can and empty it into the bowl with the milk. Fill the empty can again with yogurt and add to the milk mixture and combine.

Then, cover the bottom of a 9″ X 12″ pan with whole cookies or Graham crackers and pour some of the mixture over the top, then layer more crackers and mixture until you have several layers. Press and smooth the top of the torte, as shown in the photo. I kept a little of the passion fruit pulp with seeds to pat on top to make a nice, shiny top “crust”. Chill for at least 3 hours, cut and serve. You may garnish with whipped cream, a cherry and sprinkle with crushed graham crackers. A sprig of fresh mint brings yet another color to the dish, yum!

This dessert is very easy to make, especially when passion fruit is so abundant in Boquete. It can be made a day ahead, in case you have a busy day preparing the other dishes for your dinner. Actually, David and I had Juan’s Passion Fruit and Yogurt Torte for breakfast the day after serving it for dinner. It was even better then.

“Eat dessert first”, don’t they say???