My birthday was always my favorite day of the year when I was a kid. My parents made a big deal out of it and since my sister and I had birthdays that were separated by only 4 days, we celebrated them together, even when we were teenagers. Since we were only two years apart, we knew each other’s friends well and had no problem having one party where all of our friends were invited and had fun together.
The time of the year was always great too, because the weather at the end of April was usually warm and dry, while everything was in bloom. Our parents threw us a big party where everyone hung out in our big front yard. There was always music and lots of dancing (my sister and I loved to dance, and still do). There is a photo of me from what was probably my 8th birthday, twirling a girl from my class, most likely to an ABBA or Boney M song (my favorite bands at that time).
As an adult, I still love my birthday and I still get excited at the prospect of opening presents and celebrating a day that’s all about me. But not all of my adult birthdays have included big parties and dancing. Take this year, for example. The night before my birthday, I had an MRI of my left hip and lower spine to figure out the source of the hip pain and foot numbness that I’ve had since October (it turns out it’s a labral tear, tendonosis, and bursitis). Nothing makes you feel like you’re getting older quite like hip pain. Then I got home and in the middle of dinner a piece of my lower front tooth just fell off. The next day, the day of my birthday, we woke up to freezing temperatures (at the end of April) and one of the rainiest days in the history of New York city. On top of that I had to work all day and teach in the evening.
But before you start to feel sorry for me, I should tell you that after all that I got to come home to a lovely dinner with my amazing husband, who bought me presents and brought me flowers, and finished it all with a hefty scoop of this passion fruit ice cream, one of my favorite desserts. Which is to say, I had a great birthday again.
Passion Fruit Ice Cream
Note: I use the frozen passion fruit pulp from Goya, which I thaw before adding to the egg yolks. You can also buy fresh passion fruits and extract the pulp yourself. If you do so, you can either strain the seeds or leave them in for the added crunch.
1 can (14oz sweetened condensed milk)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup passion fruit pulp (see note)
4 large egg yolks
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the passion fruit pulp. Place a mesh strainer on top of a medium bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan, add sweetened condensed milk, cream, sugar, and pinch of salt. Heat, stirring frequently, over medium heat until combined and bubbles start to form.
Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring about 1/3 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, while whisking constantly. Scrape the tempered egg yolk mixture into the saucepan, again whisking constantly. You’ll notice that the mixture will immediately become thicker. Continue to cook over medium heat for another 4 minutes, stirring constantly with a spatula and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan.
Pour the mixture through the mesh strainer into the medium bowl. Let cool completely and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.