Recipe: cranberry pâte de fruits
A few weeks ago, I was picking up product from Robin Chocolates for a shoot. Whenever I go into the production room, Robin offers me samples of her latest masterpiece confections and I usually decline or ask to cut a tiny corner to taste. She always gives me this grin and announces to everyone, “Oh yeah, Jen doesn’t like chocolate!” I’m pretty sure Robin finds this both confounding and mildly amusing, but then she’ll grab a little bag and fill it with goodies for me to take to Jeremy (who is a chocolate fiend). This time, I tried the cranberry pâte de fruit with vodka-and-lime-soaked cranberry ganache, because I’m a sucker for fruit. “Robin, this is amazing,” I muttered into the air while I tried to spread all of the flavors out in my mouth to taste each and every one. I made a mental note that I needed to get in on that cranberry pâte de fruit action.
sugar, cranberries, water, lemon, liquid pectin
line a square pan with parchment paper
then line with another piece of parchment perpendicular to the first to cover the edges
The recipe I used looked so easy… too easy. A short list of ingredients and a few minutes of bubble time on the stove was most of the work. Sadly, my first batch never set and wound up becoming a sort of cranberry spread to distribute among willing recipients. It tasted great, but it was too runny to hold a shape. I really hate when a recipe doesn’t work – especially when I drop a pretty penny on something like organic cranberries. A little research on other pâte de fruits recipes identified the problem.
slice lemon and remove seeds
place cranberries and lemon in a food processor
When it comes to candymaking, temperature is important and a candy thermometer comes in quite handy. As you go higher in elevation from sea level, water boils at a lower temperature. The general rule of thumb is to reduce the temperature by 2 degrees for every 1,000 feet in elevation above sea level. In this case, we want to boil the candy until it reaches 235°F, or at my house it would be 218°F. Rather than the 4 minutes the original recipe nominally tossed out there, it took me 50 minutes to get to 218°F. So there’s that…
put the purée and sugar in a medium saucepan
when the purée reaches temperature, add the pectin
Watching the temperature profile carefully, it increased within a few minutes to 195°F (or 212°F at sea-level which is the boiling point of water). Then it sat on 195°F for a good 40 minutes. You may be tempted when the temperature is so close, but not really there, to just take it off the stove and call it good. But here is what’s happening: the water is undergoing a phase transition from liquid to vapor and it’s going to hang out at that temperature until most of the water has transitioned. Once this occurs, the temperature will begin to rise – slowly – but at least it’s on the move! The candy became more viscous and spattered quite a bit, but I knew this was going to set. Also? Don’t stop stirring, you definitely don’t want this burning onto the bottom of the pan.
pour it into the prepared pan and let it cool to room temperature
once cooled, cut out the shapes
After the pâte de fruit has set and cooled in the pan, turn it out onto a work surface. Blot any excess moisture on the block with a towel. Slice or cutter your desired shapes and set them on a cooling rack to dry. The reason for this is so the rolling sugar doesn’t turn into a runny syrup if it comes into contact with moisture from the candy. I let mine dry for 8 hours mostly because I forgot about them. The sugar stuck just fine and after a day, the white crystals turned red, but remained crystals rather than turn into syrup. I consider that a victory.
let dry on a cooling rack
roll in sugar
So how do they taste? Intensely cranberry-ish, but in the best way possible. These are tart and sweet and ever so slightly bitter which is always going to give you more depth than just plain old sweet. The lemon adds a refreshing perfume and texture. I have to say I really like these confections, but cannot eat more than one a day. They make excellent palate cleansers as well as pretty, jewel-like gifts. Something to do with leftover cranberries or just for the love of cranberries!
a little goes a long way
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Cranberry Pâte de Fruits
based on this recipe
1 small lemon, sliced with seeds removed
12 oz. fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
6 oz. (2 pkgs) Certo liquid pectin
Line an 8×8-inch square pan with two 8×13-inch sheets of parchment arranged orthogonally so that all of the base and sides are lined. It helps to tape the edges to the rim of the pan lest they curl back on the pâte de fruits. Place the lemon slices, cranberries, and water in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and purée until smooth. Combine the cranberry purée with the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking at the bottom of the pan. Let boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches a temperature of 235°F (218°F at 8500 ft. or minus 2 °F for every 1,000 feet above sea-level). This should take around 20 minutes at sea-level. It took me 50 minutes at my elevation. Stir the pectin into the mixture and bring to a boil for a minute, stirring constantly. Pour the fruit into the prepared pan and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cut. Turn the block out on a cutting surface and pat dry any excess moisture or condensation. Cut the pâte de fruits with little shaped cutters or slice with a knife. Set on a cooling rack and let dry for an hour or longer. Roll in sugar before serving. If packaging, the sugar will eventually absorb any additional moisture on the pâte de fruits, but if you dry the pieces long enough before rolling in sugar, it won’t become a puddle of sugary syrup. Makes as many as you can get from an 8×8-inch block of fruit gel.
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