This passion fruit crêpe cake is a celebration of tiki flavors in a modern take on a classic dessert. Hailing from South American countries like Brazil and Argentina, passion fruit has a season that comes in waves from January through November—which is worth seeking out. (But if you can’t find it fresh, you can substitute tropical liqueur like Chinola or Giffard). Passion fruit brings a sour, bright, and delicious funk to this dessert, with a little extra tang from crème fraîche and aromatic tropical spices in a molasses-sweetened crêpe base.
- Mix the crêpe batter. Place all ingredients in a blender, except for the flour, and blend on high for 1 minute. Let settle a bit, add the flour, give a few good stirs, and blend for an additional 15 seconds, just to combine. Strain this mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a container or another bowl to break up any clumps of flour. Rest and refrigerate crêpe batter for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
- Meanwhile, prepare the curd. Zest and juice all your citrus, keeping them separate—you want to yield 2/3 cup juice total. Fill a small pot with ½ inch of water and set over a medium flame—this will be your water bath. Have ready a medium bowl set with a fine mesh sieve for straining your curd.
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt. Add your reserved citrus juice, whisking to combine. Set this mixture over your prepared water bath. Whisk occasionally until the mixture begins to thicken, then whisk constantly until the mixture is quite thick (it will register 170–175ºF). Remove from heat and strain through your sieve.
- Let curd cool slightly, then add to it the reserved zest, passion fruit liqueur, and your cold, cubed butter. Stir slightly, then process with an immersion blender until smooth and all the butter is incorporated, about 3–5 minutes (this can also be done in a blender). Cover the curd and chill for at least 2 hours until cool and set.
- Proceed to crêpe making. Have ready a large plate to catch your crêpes. Place a 10-inch crêpe pan or other nonstick pan over medium-low heat. When hot, swirl with a small pat of butter, then quickly add a scant ¼ cup batter and swirl the pan enthusiastically to coat the entire bottom surface. Cook 1–2 minutes, until bubbles form and the surface looks matte rather than wet, then carefully flip crêpes using a long offset spatula or similar, and cook about 30 seconds more. Stack finished crêpes onto a plate, and don’t worry if a few of them break. Adjust heat as necessary, buttering in between rounds of crêpes as needed, until you cook off the entire batter. You want to have at least 15–20 good crêpes for assembly. When finished, let cool slightly, then wrap and set in the fridge to chill.
- Make the cream filling. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together crème fraîche and heavy cream on medium speed until they turn into billowy stiff peaks, about 3–4 minutes.
- In a separate large bowl, pour your chilled, set curd. Fold your whipped cream mixture into the curd in a few additions. The goal is to combine the two gently so as not to deflate the cream too much. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes—this will make assembly easier.
- Remove your crêpes from the fridge. If you like, you may fold crêpes into quarters and use kitchen shears to trim the lacy edges to round them and clean them up.
- Cut and scoop out the meat from about 4 passion fruits (you want about 1/3 cup).
- On a serving plate, cake stand, or cardboard cake board, assemble your cake: stack one layer of crêpe and brush it lightly with passion fruit liqueur, if using. Top with a scant ⅓ cup of cream and dot the surface of the cream with a small spoonful of fresh passion fruit. Using an offset spatula, spread your cream just shy of the edges, then stack the next crêpe, and repeat this stacking with all your layers, finishing with a final layer on top without cream. You will have cream leftover—reserve this for serving.
- Cover your cake with plastic wrap, adhering it to the surface and tucking it around the edges of the cake, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, cut your remaining passion fruit, scoop the seeds out, and use the remaining for garnishing your slices. Cut and serve slices of cake along with a dollop of the remaining cream and a spoonful of fresh passion fruit. Keep refrigerated. The cake is best enjoyed within a few days, but it can be assembled and frozen for up to 1 month.