Friday, October 2, 2009

Lilikoi Cheesecake Trifle

Ok, I've said it before, I'm no baker. I don't like to have to strictly follow a recipe. I like to cook simple things that don't take hours & hours with lots of steps. If you're like me, this recipe is NOT for you. BUT, if you feel like tackling something time consuming, messy, and really, REALLY good, this is just the thing!

I had to pry this recipe from my sister's reluctant claws. This is her go-to secret recipe dessert to impress a crowd. The difference is, she makes it in a rectangular cake pan, and I made it in two smaller trifle dishes. I did this mostly because I knew I would need to get rid of a lot of it, lest I eat the whole thing.

I think the key to the freshness of this dessert is in using fresh lilikoi, also called passion fruit. Fresh lilikoi is really hard to find in stores because it ripens really fast and doesn't keep long. The reason I decided to take on this crazy thing is because I stumbled upon (literally) some lilikoi on a hiking trail a couple of weeks ago and brought one home so that I could plant the seeds and grow my own vine. Then I remembered my sister's recipe and decided to go back to the trail the next weekend to hunt for more. I ended up stuffing my shorts pockets with about 20 of the lime sized fruits and schlepping them out of the forest.

If you don't happen to have a jungle nearby to forage in, and no fresh lilikoi are in sight, I'm sure you could substitute canned or frozen juice.

There are basically three steps for the three different layers. Here's what you need:
1/2 box yellow cake mix
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 package unflavored gelatin
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 C. vegatable oil
4 eggs
1 C. passionfruit (lilikoi) juice
2 C. water

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350.

For the bottom layer:
Combine cake mix, 1/2 C. water, 1/4 C. oil and 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white). Mix with an electric mixer for about two minutes. Pour into pans. I used two 4 inch ovenproof glass bowls. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Set aside and allow to cool.

For the middle layer:
In a saucepan, combine 1/2 C. sugar, unflavored gelatin, 1/2 C. passionfruit juice, 1/2 C. water, and 2 egg yolks (reserve whites) over med-high heat and stir constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile take reserved egg whites and put into a very clean, very dry bowl, (if you happen to be so pro-ish to have a copper bowl, this is supposed to be perfect). This clean bowl thing is key because this is one of those crazy scientific steps that makes me wonder why in the world I am baking. Also, a side note here: I'm sure you all have a mixer. I'm sure you didn't attempt to make bread dough with yours and blow it up. Because that would just be crazy. And if you did happen to do such a foolish thing, do not attempt to use a food processor, it won't work. And really, trying to do it by hand is just futile, although it will give you a good deltoid workout. Trust me on this one, just call your mom and have her bring hers over and save yourself the headache, I'm just saying...

Alright, so even my baking-guru sister struggles with this stiffly beaten egg white requirement. So I did a little google-ing and found that room temp whites work better, add a pinch of salt in the beginning and then a pinch of cream of tartar halfway through and a pinch of sugar at the end for success. Finally, it worked.

So once your egg whites are beaten into submission, in a separate bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/4 sugar. Then add cooled passionfruit mixture. Next, gently fold in egg whites, spread over cakes and refrigerate.

For the top layer:
Grab your saucepan again and combine remaining 1/2 C. juice, 1/2 C. sugar, 3 Tbs. cornstarch and 1 C. water. Cook over med-high heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Allow to cool and then spread over top layer of cakes.

The longer it can stay refrigerated, the better it will set. If you go with the trifle option, just know that it's going to look it's prettiest before you serve it. Once you dig in, well, it will look a little... rustic.

Now pour a glass of wine, put your feet up and relax, after toiling through this recipe, you've earned it! Enjoy...


  1. Love the picture. ingredients, directions, and humor had a nice easy flow.

  2. Thanks bevipo! Hope you tackle this one, it's delish.

  3. I make this recipe about once a month (I got it from your sister too!), and I don't have trouble with the stiff egg whites...the key seems to be coldness. I put a small metal bowl in the freezer while I'm doing Step 1, and then just whip the egg whites & sugar. No problem! Btw, lilikoi cheesecake is the best BREAKFAST food on the planet... :)))

  4. Thanks for the tip!! Oh, & for the breakfast idea! I like your style!!!