Dairy-Free Coconut Passion Fruit Pound Cake

DSC04029 The first time I flew in an airplane, I was a teenager. My parents, my sister and I flew to Athens to visit our relatives. I was so excited to finally fly. I don’t remember much from the flight but I do remember that it was a very turbulent approach to the Athens airport. In my excitement, being a teenager on his first flight, I didn’t care. I kept turning to my dad who was sitting next to me trying to show him all the things I could see from my window seat but he was still as a statue, gripping the arm rests, trying hard not to throw up. DSC04016

Before that first flight with my family to Athens, I had always loved going to the airport to pick up aunts and uncles visiting us from abroad. It seemed like such a magical place of people appearing, literally, out of thin air. I loved the chimes sound that preceded every announcement and the constant hum of people moving about. My love of airports continued for a while. The second time in my life that I boarded a plane, it was to travel to Philadelphia to begin my life in the U.S., a life that gave me many trips all over the world. For many years, I loved the different airports I got to visit. It wasn’t until much later, especially after 9/11, when airports became synonymous with stress, worry and unhappy crowds for me.

I remember talking with my mom one day after that first family flight to Athens. We were remembering all the things we did on our trip and we were reliving them by retelling them. “This is why I love the idea of traveling,” she said. “Because it means I get to see things I’ve never seen before and eat food I’ve never tasted before.” That last part always stayed with me and still makes me excited about traveling. It meant tasting fresh coconut for the first time in my life. Or curiously slicing into my first ripe passion fruit, wondering if it has gone bad, all wrinkly and hard as leather, and greeted with a bright yellow liquid interior studded with seeds, perfuming the air with its intoxicating scent.
DSC04020Dairy-Free Coconut and Passion Fruit Pound Cake


2/3 cup virgin & unrefined coconut oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cups of passion fruit pulp


Preheat the oven to 350º F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan and line with parchment paper leaving extra paper overhanging over both long sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, add the coconut oil and mix for 10 seconds at medium speed. While mixer is running, add sugar and mix for another 2 minutes, stopping half way to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and yolk and continue mixing until combined, about 10-15 seconds more.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add passion fruit pulp and mix a few seconds more to incorporate. Add remainder of flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

Scrape batter in prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 70-75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.

Place pan on rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing cake from pan and letting it cool completely on the rack before slicing and serving.

Passion Fruit Ice Cream


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.