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Passion Fruit Butter Cookies

half eaten passion fruit cookie

Passion fruit should be a spice.

When you cut through the tough rind, and breathe in the intensity of the sweet, fruity, flowery aroma, your cooking reasoning disappears and all you want to do is add the juicy pulps and seeds into every dish you make. That must be why it’s called Passion fruit. But it’s not.

‘Passion’ actually refers to the Passion of the Christ. Scooping the black-dotted yellow pulps into my mouth and crunching on the sour seeds, I couldn’t imagine the connection.

cut in half passion fruit showing yellow pulp and black seeds

In Brazil in the 16th century, a Spanish missionary saw the plant and found similar characteristics of its vine, flower, and fruit to the story of the Passion of the Christ. The threads of the flower like the Crown of Thorns, the purple petals like the purple robe, the five anthers like the five wounds, and the vine’s tendrils like the whips.

what does passion fruit taste like, can you eat the seeds

Passion fruits are ready when the skin shows bumps and wrinkles. But I couldn’t wait that long after bringing them home from the morning market. I took a few out from the refrigerator, cut them in half, almost passed out from inhaling the heavenly scent too long, dug out the jellylike pulps, pressed the pulps to separate the juice, passed out, woke up a few minutes later, added in a bit of sugar and milk to counter the sourness of the juice, and drank it down like a magical potion.

passion fruit butter cookies on a plate ready to eat

The magic didn’t stop there. I added the leftover crunchy black seeds to a simple butter cookie recipe. Warning: the mix of butter and passion fruit creates irresistible cookie dough. Without iron willpower, you will find yourself spooning the oh-so-good dough into your mouth instead of on the cookie sheet.

For the dough balls that did make it onto the pan, the resulting cookies were unforgettably good. Fragrant, rich, and crumbly, with a few surprise crunches from the black seeds of the passion fruit. If only the passion fruit season in Penang could last just a bit longer this year…

tropical cookie recipe

Passion Fruit Butter Cookies by Season with Spice
Makes about 20 cookies

What you'll need:
3 passion fruits
125g butter, room temperature (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup raw sugar (or white sugar)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
2. Strain the passion fruit pulps and keep the seeds for the cookies. Drink up the juice while you bake!
3. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Then add in the egg and vanilla extract, and beat well.
4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.
5. Into the wet mixture, fold in the dry mix and passion fruit seeds.
6. Form the dough into balls, each the size of two tablespoons. Place them on baking paper lined trays - about 2 inches apart - and flatten slightly with a fork.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a pale-golden color. Remove from baking sheet and cool for 5 minutes before devouring.

1. It is important to strain the juice well before you set the seeds aside for the cookies. If the mixture gets too wet, you can add a bit more flour before forming the dough.
2. To form the dough easier, you can cover and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before forming the balls.
3. I like the texture to be lighter and slightly cake-like, so I used a bit more baking powder. You can cut back on the baking powder if you prefer the cookies more dense and crunchy.
4. Passion fruit is best eaten when the skin develops slight wrinkles and bumps (but still looks fresh). You can keep the fruit in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.


Tanvi said...

What a fascinating story! In India we call the plant the "Pandava-Kaurav" plant after the family from the great epic, the Mahabharata. There were 5 Pandava brothers and 100 Kaurav brothers who fought each other, and so the 5 prongs of the flower represent the Pandavas and the purple petals the Kaurav. How interesting that the same plant has two names from different religions and stories!

Teresa said...

I almost touched the screen to reach one cookie. Delicious combination and it's so healthy that you can drink that multivitamin juice while you're baking ;)

Nashira Usef said...

I love butter cookies and if it's flavored with passion fruit--bliss! My in-laws have passion fruit in their backyard and I'd brought a couple with me hoping to share it on my blog. But, I just didn't have the patience to take pics :) You know, the passion fruit we have in Kerala is the yellow skinned one which is more acidic than the purple ones.

seasonwithspice said...

Thanks for sharing such a great story of passion fruit from the Indian epic, Tanvi. Always look forward to learn more and discover...

seasonwithspice said...

They were deliciously dangerous since I was eating the dough and drinking the juice at the same time:)

seasonwithspice said...

I can imagine your impatience. If I didn't have a huge bag of passion fruits with me, I would not be sharing them here either. Bet the yellow skinned ones go well with butter cookies too.

spicylove said...

I've just discovered your site and I'm really impressed by the colourful stories I've read, this one being my favourite so far. Thank you so much for great information. In Korea, there is a citron fruit called "Yuja", which is extremely sour and used to make tea. I love passionfruit, too, but unfortunately I can't get them here. This article inspired me to make more of the yuja butter cookies I made months ago. I will try to post the photo here. Cheers!

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Spicylove - thanks for saying hi. I've seen yuja sold in preserved jars for tea-making in grocery stores here. Never tried it before though. It does remind me of pomelo that has the same name as yuja in Chinese - 柚子. Yuja cutter cookies sound delicious. Those citrusy fruits are just brilliant for cookies!

Mary said...

It is Easter morning in Africa and I wanted to make something from passion fruit to take with me to my friends for dinner. Thanks for the recipe and the perfect story for Easter on the name of the passion fruit!

Season with Spice said...

Thanks for giving the recipe a try, Mary. You definitely picked the right day to make the cookies.

SeasonWithSpice said...

Thank you for the lovely recipe. I had 6 older, more shriveled passion fruits which I used and took a risk,did not strain. They still came out beautifully cake like. Delish! Thanks again.

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