‘Pâte de Fruits’ (fruit paste) is a classic French confection. There are many versions out there and some are a bit laborious, requiring a candy thermometer.
This Martha Stewart recipe is drop dead easy and takes no more than 15 minutes to make. However, I’ve adapted it because I discovered that if the fruit jellies are rolled in sugar before they’ve had time to dry out properly, the sugar melts and you end up with a rather sticky mess.
On that basis, I recommend making these 2-3 days before you want eat them (or package them as gifts). This also allows the fruit flavors to fully develop.
The end result – bright, jewel-colored little sweets that taste intensely fruity.
You can make these with any fruit combination such as blackberries, apples, citrus zest, raspberries, blackcurrants, apricots and so-on. The most important thing to remember is to use 100% pure pectin (not ‘Certo’ or similar) to achieve the quick setting action required here.
I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin because it jells with any amount of sweetener, which means you can use a sugar substitute or reduce the amount of sugar when making these with sweeter types of fruit – or perhaps you prefer a tart-tasting jelly.
You’ll need a food processor and an 8 x 12 inch (20 x 30 cm) baking pan.
CRANBERRY & PEAR JELLIES (Pâte de Fruit)
(Makes 40-50 jellies)
2 lbs (0.9k) of ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1.5 cups (360ml measure) of fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups (480ml measure) of sugar, divided
1/4 cup (60ml measure) – or 1 envelope of Pomona’s Universal Pectin
A splash of fresh orange juice
Extra sugar for rolling
Line the baking pan with parchment.
Put the pears and cranberries in a food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides from time to time, until you have a smooth purée.
Transfer this to a heavy based pan and add 1 & 3/4 cups (420ml measure) of the sugar and a splash of orange juice. Bring to a rapid boil and continue to boil, stirring for approx 3 minutes.
Combine the remaining sugar with the pectin and sprinkle this over the boiling fruit purée, whisking thoroughly while continuing to cook for one more minute.
Turn off the heat and immediately pour the fruit into the prepared pan, smoothing it over if necessary.
Allow it to set and cool on a wire rack (I recommend overnight), uncovered.
The next day, cut the ‘Pâte de Fruits’ into 1- 1.5 inch squares (3-4cm) with a sharp knife and transfer them to the wire rack to dry out for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
They’ll always be slightly sticky but once they’ve dried out, sprinkle some extra sugar on a plate and press the jellies into the sugar on all sides.
Whether you’re eating them yourself or making them as a gift, I recommend arranging/storing them in single layers separated by non-stick baking parchment, in an airtight container – but do make sure they’re completely dry first.