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my bloody (orange) valentine

Recipe: blood orange pâte de fruit

In this final week of January, I’ve watched the snow in my neighborhood practically get up and walk away. Actually, it just melted really, really fast under bright sun and in unseasonably warm 60°F temperatures. For skiers and riders and snow enthusiasts, this is Mother Nature giving us the bird. I did my part though. I got my car washed on Monday and we received a little – just a very little – bit of snow today on the mountain. My hope is for a snowier February because January was a stinker for snowfall. But even without heaps of snow, there are always things to look forward to. For one, Chinese New Year will be February 19th and that means you have to eat ALL OF THE LUCKY FOODS starting on the 18th. I’ll talk more about that next week. And I think some big sports ball event will take place this weekend which will hopefully keep folks off the ski slopes. Then there is Valentine’s Day, which I typically revolt against on principle alone. For a good many years I detested Valentine’s Day for the greed, the guilt, the implications, the sexism, the exclusion. These days, my attitude has shifted. Valentine’s Day, like any other day, is reason to just be nice to people. Be nice. Don’t be a douchebag. Such a good set of rules for life.

One thing that never fails to put a smile on most people’s faces is to hand them a little bag of homemade sweets. I like trying new recipes for desserts, baked goods, and confections. It’s dealing with the aftermath that I dread – like having 63 blood orange pâte de fruits (fruit jellies) on my kitchen counter. Having tasted the first one, I didn’t really need to taste more and certainly not 63 more, which is why I love to bag them up and distribute to friends and family.

sugar, a pat of butter, liquid pectin, blood oranges

juicing the blood oranges

boil one whole orange for 10 seconds

This recipe comes from my friend, Zoë, of Zoë Bakes and it’s quite simple as pâte de fruit goes. With blood oranges in season and the stunning color the juice lends to these sparkling little candies, it makes a perfect, delicate morsel to share on Valentine’s Day or any day. One thing to note about blood oranges is that they don’t tend to be as juicy as some of their better known cousins. The recipe purées a blanched blood orange with 1 1/3 cups blood orange juice. If you don’t have enough blood oranges to yield the 1 1/3 cups, never fear – you can make up the difference with juice from juice oranges or some other variety. It may not wind up as red, but it will still be reddish and it will most certainly be beautiful.

You can dictate the texture of your fruit jelly by how thoroughly you purée the fruit. If you like a chunkier jelly, leave the purée a little coarse with tiny bits of orange. Or if you want it to have a finer texture, be sure the purée is smooth. And if you want a uniformly pure jelly with no fruity bits, put the purée through a fine-mesh sieve and strain out all of the fruit solids. Me? I like a little texture in the candy.

slice the ends off the blanched orange

cut the orange into eighths or sixteenths

place the orange pieces in a food processor and blitz them

add the juice and purée

I tend to be a little nervous when it comes to candymaking because of my elevation. The greatest concern is if a candy doesn’t set. When a recipe tells you to cook a sugary liquid for a quantity of time rather than to a target temperature, it’s obvious they are working at sea level. For those of us living at higher elevations (8500 feet for me), temperature is a good handrail and I’ve met with greater candymaking success this way. The rule of thumb is to adjust (reduce) your target temperatures by 1°F for every 500 feet of elevation above sea level (subtract 17° for my house). After researching other citrus pâte de fruit recipes, the general temperature range to target for sea level is 220°F to 248°F. 220°F gives you a softer chew and is better suited for more delicate flavors like fresh berries. At the other end of the range, 248°F results in a chewier pâte de fruit and works better for more robust fall fruits. I wound up cooking the candy to 208°F which translates to 225°F at sea level – on the softer and more delicate end of the temperature range.

combine the sugar and the purée in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil

add a pat of butter and boil to your target temperature

stir in the pectin and boil on high for a minute

pour into a parchment-lined baking pan

The pâte de fruit set up nicely and within a couple of hours, but I let it sit out overnight for good measure. I covered the pan with plastic wrap to prevent the top surface from drying out because 1) our humidity is ridiculously low and 2) if it isn’t a little sticky, it will be hard to get the sugar to adhere to it. This batch came out so easily from the pan – just carefully lift the wings of the parchment paper out and quickly set it on a cutting surface. Squares are a quick and simple default shape that don’t result in any waste. You can use cute little decorative cutters for hearts, flowers, diamonds, whatever you like. Just keep in mind that if you made a “chunky” pâte de fruit, then it will be more difficult to come away with clean edges from decorative cutters as opposed to a knife. I recommend rolling the jellies in sugar right after cutting them. If you wait too long and the surfaces dry out, the sugar just won’t stick properly.

wait until the jelly has set

cut into pieces

roll in sugar

After making this recipe and comparing it to other pâte de fruit recipes I’ve tried, I think it’s okay to omit the pat of butter if you would rather not use it. It adds a nice silkiness to the candy, but I think it also makes the shelf life less stable because of the fat. Totally your choice. I do like it, but I don’t think it is necessary. Also, if you package the candies in little paper candy cups, the tiny amount of grease will bleed into the papers. Good to know. But how do they taste? Fruity and sweet and beautiful. I shipped some to our mothers, sent some to our neighbors, and delivered several more to various friends. All of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. So if you want to make someone’s day, this would be a lovely gift (unless they are allergic to citrus, then it would be a terrible gift).

pretty sparkling jellies

such a great color

deep, vibrant red on the inside

Blood Orange Pâte de Fruit
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Zoe Bakes

1 whole blood orange, washed
1 1/3 cups blood orange juice, about 4-5 oranges (or combine with juice from other oranges)*
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp butter
6 oz. (2 pouches) Certo liquid pectin
sugar for rolling

* Blood oranges tend not to be as juicy as other varieties.

Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (tape the sides in place – it’s okay if two of the sides are bare). Bring a medium saucepan of water (filled 2/3 to 3/4 full) to a boil over high heat. Boil the whole blood orange for 10 seconds and remove from the water. Turn off the heat. Slice the ends off of the blood orange and discard (or compost). Cut the cooked orange into eighths and place the pieces in a food processor. Pulse the orange until it is finely chopped, then add the juice to the food processor. Purée the chopped orange and orange juice together until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier texture, then leave a few bits of orange. If you prefer a super smooth texture, you can strain the solids out with a fine-mesh sieve.

Stir the orange purée and sugar together in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan (I used a 3 quart pan) over high heat. Slap a candy thermometer on the side of the pan to monitor the temperature of the candy. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it boil for 2 1/2 minutes. Stir in the pat of butter and keep stirring to prevent the orange candy from boiling over (it will boil pretty enthusiastically, so don’t walk away). If it looks like the candy will boil over, reduce the heat as needed. Your target temperature should be between 220°F and 248°F. You will want to be closer to 220°F for delicate flavors and a lighter chew or let the candy reach up to 248°F for fall fruit flavors and a denser, chewier fruit jelly. It’s not 220°F or 248°F, but a range of temperatures. Also, if you are at elevation, remember to subtract 1°F for every 500 feet you are above sea level. [For me, that translates into 203°F to 231°F.] I let mine cook to 208°F (which is 225°F at sea-level), so more on the delicate end of the range. Stir in the pectin and let the candy boil vigorously for one minute. Remove from heat.

Pour the hot candy into the prepared baking dish and smooth it over while hot. Let the candy cool at room temperature until completely set (about 2 hours). Poke a corner with your finger or a spoon handle to test if the candy is ready. Carefully lift the candy out of the baking dish with the parchment paper and set it on a cutting surface. Cut the pieces into squares (I did 1-inch squares) with a sharp knife or use decorative cutters (this may not work as well if you made chunky pâte de fruit). Roll the pieces in sugar. Makes about 64 candies depending on how you decide to cut them. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

blueberry pear pate de fruits cranberry pate de fruits blood orange marmalade blood orange curd-filled beet doughnuts

17 nibbles at “my bloody (orange) valentine”

  1. Kristin says:

    They certainly are beautiful! I love your Valentine’s Day evolution. My husband’s first job after grad school was in corporate analytics for a major greeting card company, and paying more attention to that industry made me think a lot of holidays were created by retailers. But being nicer to people…I can get on board with that!

  2. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    Wow – these are gorgeous, and I would definitely be a happy recipient! My husband and I used to go out for dinner in the early days of dating, but we all know that it’s just another excuse for restaurants to jack up prices and serve subpar food. It’s more fun to cook together at home anyway!

  3. Yosha says:

    I am so excited to try this! Question though – does the additional juice have to be fresh squeezed or may I use store bought?


  4. jenyu says:

    Yosha – I would recommend fresh squeezed for better flavor.

  5. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    We’re low on snow (hah!) here also and it’s a bit of concern because we need the water for next summer. Can’t really do much about it though except wash your car and hope for the best.

  6. Terri says:

    Love your “good set of rules for life”. Wish everybody thought that way!

  7. Andrea says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for breaking down the steps so artfully! You’ve inspired me to give these sweets a try!

  8. jill says:

    Oh my, aren’t these beautiful.
    I went to the Cartier exhibit at the DAM yesterday, and then ate at Palettes across the street. They served 2 cubes of this on my dessert plate (I don’t usually order dessert but it was included with the meal). I wonder if they got the recipe from you!

  9. sathya priya says:

    We call it jellies.I am looking forward trying these jellies at home.Is there any substitute for pectin?

  10. Pey-Lih says:

    Your food blogs always cheer me up even when it’s grey outside and I am not feeling well. Thank you for the wonderful recipe! It looks delicious!

  11. Judy says:

    Guess I’d better give these a try before I no longer have access to my dear blood orange tree (moving soon back to NM). Love Zoë. (I’ve indexed nearly all of her books.)

  12. Stuart says:

    I tried making these yesterday. They turned out well consistency-wise, though I liked them better this morning when there was almost a hard (but very yielding) “crust” that had formed overnight. However, I found the taste too mild for my liking, and almost too bitter (despite straining the pith and rind from the food processor puree). If I try this blood orange version again, I may remove at least half of the pith/rind from the single flash-boiled orange. Or, it’s possible that it’s January and good blood oranges aren’t able to be found. Regardless, I’m going to try your blueberry-pear version next weekend.

  13. jenyu says:

    Kristin – I can’t even imagine working for a big greeting card company! What an eye-opener that must have been :)

    Eva – we definitely prefer to stay home over Valentine’s Day. I’m so glad I got over that idiotic ideal!

    Rocky Mountain Woman – I completely agree. Despite my obsession with skiing, it’s really about the snowpack to get us through a summer without raging wildfires.

    Terri – :)

    Andrea – thank you, I hope you try them!

    jill – ha ha, it’s a traditional petit four that places like to serve after a meal.

    sathya – I guess you could try gelatin, but it really doesn’t give the same result. Pectin occurs naturally in fruit like apples, so perhaps adding some applesauce? You’ll have to google about and do some research though, as I’m not really sure.

    Pey-Lih – you’re welcome!

    Judy – ahhh, you have a blood orange tree? *jealous* :)

    Stuart – I think this is the season for blood oranges, so they should be good. That said, you probably want to use the juiciest ones you can get your hands on. Also, you could try swapping out half of the juice for another variety of orange that you prefer?

  14. Healthy Green Kitchen Blood Orange, Papaya, and Dark Cherry Smoothie » Healthy Green Kitchen says:

    […] more recipes I’ve made and loved lately: Blood Orange Pate De Fruit from Use Real Butter French Onion Soup from The Kitchn Cubano Sandwich from Zagat Sour Cream Fudge Cake from Andie […]

  15. Lindsay | Please Pass the Peas says:

    These are beautiful. I’m interested that you managed to ship these, since so many recipes for pate de fruits call for storing them in the refrigerator and/or only rolling in sugar just before serving. Do you know how they held up to the shipping and whether the sugar coating absorbed much moisture? I would love to send some for holiday gifts, but I want to be confident they’ll survive the trip. Thanks.

  16. jenyu says:

    Lindsay – They definitely get soggy (that is, the sugar you roll them in will become wettish), but the pate de fruits are still good. You can cook them a little longer to get them more dry, but in general, the sugar does become wet by the next day.

  17. twyla says:

    these were interesting. I was originally going to candy i remember as “orange slices” as a kid. I’m thinking if I add a half cup of karo and cook to softball I might get closer to that.

    In the meanwhile, I made mine with seville oranges and used shaped silicone pan/molds. One tray is christmas light bulbs and they look great. would be fun to have multi fruit colors of bulbs as arrangement. Love the silcone molds, no parchment needed and instant wow.

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