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chocolate-dipped love

Recipe: strawberry pâte de fruits

For the past several days, I’ve watched white clouds build over the mountains, turn dark, and then blot out the sun by mid afternoon. The black-bellied clouds swoop down with winds, lightning, and rain – only to march away before dinner. This pattern is more typical of summer than spring, but I like the rain. It keeps things cool and wet which is better than dry and burning (wildfires). And every time it rains, I cross my fingers that up high in the mountains, it’s falling as snow. Wishful thinking.

ski day #101 – because i can

dramatic weather

my favorite cherry tree in the canyon in full bloom

Before my trip to Virginia, I debated what sorts of goodies to bring to my parents – more specifically, my mom. It had to be something that traveled well and didn’t take up a lot of space. I thought chocolate-dipped strawberries would be great except they are über perishable. Why not chocolate-dipped strawberry pâte de fruits? The first step is to make the pâte de fruits.

sugar, lemon, butter, strawberries, liquid pectin

hull the berries

chopped berries, juiced lemon, and everything else

pop the berries in a blender and purée

A pound of strawberries gave me about 2 cups of purée. I strained the purée through a medium mesh sieve, but I think my Vitamix does such a good job of blendering the hell out of things that only a very few seeds were strained out. You can substitute other berries in for the strawberries or do a combination of berries. Combine the purée, sugar, and lemon juice in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Some recipes tell you to boil for X number of minutes, but that’s assuming you are at sea level. A target temperature is far more accurate and consistent – especially for those of us who live more than a mile above sea level. My target was 220°F (203°F at 8500 feet above sea level – subtract 1°F for every 500 feet above sea level). Use a candy thermometer to monitor the progress. The temperature will rise quickly and then it will just sit below your target temperature for several minutes (like 10 or more for me). Keep stirring to prevent the purée from burning – it will eventually get there. My temperature did drop twice for a minute or so, which was odd, but it did recover and finally hit the target. Anyone experience this while candy making?

straining the purée

combining the purée, sugar, and lemon juice

once you reach the target temperature, stir in the butter

after boiling for 3 minutes, stir in the pectin

When the mixture is ready, pour it into a baking pan. I grabbed the wrong pan and used a 9×9 inch rather than an 8×8 inch pan, so I didn’t bother pushing the jelly into the corners. Also, while shooting the pan, the jelly set up before I could smooth the top. If you wind up with pieces of candy that have uneven surfaces, those are perfect candidates for popping into your mouth. But if there are too many to pop into your mouth, you can always enrobe them in tempered chocolate. Amiright?

pour the mixture into a parchment-lined pan

let it set up (preferably with a smooth surface)

turn the jelly out onto a cutting surface

roll in sugar for classic pâte de fruits

I rolled a third of the fruit jellies in sugar and reserved the rest for dipping in chocolate. I don’t recommend rolling them in sugar and then dipping them in chocolate. I’m not sure if that thought even crossed your mind, but – just don’t. It’s messy and weird. I prefer to use dark chocolate because it behaves better than milk or white chocolate when tempering and it tastes better (in my opinion). You don’t have to temper your chocolate, you can just melt it and dip your candies and it will be adequate, I’m sure. But if you want that shiny finish and that nice snap of the chocolate, then you might want to temper the chocolate. I basically heat my chocolate over a water bath until it reaches 112°F and remove it from the water bath. The temperature usually continues to rise to about 124°F. You want it to get to 118°F (116°F for milk and white chocolates), but don’t let it get above 180°F because it will burn.

Cool the chocolate over an ice bath or on an ice pack, stirring and agitating the chocolate with a spatula (to encourage crystal realignment) until it reaches 95°F. At this point, remove the bowl from the ice and toss in a small handful of the same solid chocolate into the melted chocolate. The solid chocolate is tempered (in my case, chips) and will help to seed the rest of the chocolate. Continue stirring and agitating the melted chocolate. Dark chocolate (bittersweet and semi-sweet) is in temper between 89-91°F, white and milk chocolates are between 85-87°F. These are the temperature ranges where you want to dip your jellies into the chocolate – try not to let the chocolate fall out of the range. The temperature will continue to drop, so I like to layer a few kitchen towels over the pan of hot water (the water bath) and set the bowl on top to keep my chocolate in that temperature range (89-91°F). You’ll have to monitor the temperature and move the bowl off the pan and back on to maintain temper, but you get used to it after a few times.

melting chocolate over a water bath

seeding at 95°f

dipping the jelly in tempered chocolate

drying on a silpat

The pâte de fruits turned out really well. The sugar-rolled jellies were pretty and fruity, but the chocolate-dipped jellies were almost like chocolate-dipped strawberries. I had extra berries on hand, so I dipped a few while the chocolate was still in temper. Definitely use ripe, in-season berries for this because the flavor comes through so beautifully in these confections. They make lovely gifts or nice petit fours at the end of a meal or for an afternoon tea. My mom loved them – and so did my dad!

sugared or chocolate-dipped

a little treat for someone special

big flavor in small packages

Strawberry Pâte de Fruits
[print recipe]

1 lb. strawberries, hulled, puréed, and strained – should yield 2 cups of purée (you can use any berries)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh
1 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz. liquid pectin
granulated sugar for rolling or dark chocolate for enrobing

Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper. Stir the strawberry purée, sugar, and lemon juice together in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, making sure the measuring end is in the strawberry mixture. Set the pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The strawberry purée will foam quite a bit – just keep stirring – it will eventually settle down as the mixture thickens. Let the purée boil, stirring to keep the bottom from burning. You want to target a temperature of 220°F (203°F at 8500 feet elevation). Once the temperature is reached, stir in the butter and boil for another 3 minutes. Stir in the pectin and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into your prepared pan.

Let the fruit jelly set (this takes anywhere from a few hours to overnight depending on your humidity and other factors). Once the jelly is set, turn it out onto a clean cutting board and slice into squares or whatever shapes you like. It’s sticky, so clean your knife or cutting tool between slices. Roll in sugar or enrobe in tempered chocolate (I talk about the seed method for tempering chocolate in this post). Makes 64 1-inch squares. Store in airtight container for up to a week. Refrigerate if room temperature is warm.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

chocolate-dipped strawberries blueberry pear pate de fruits strawberry brown butter tarts blood orange pate de fruit

20 nibbles at “chocolate-dipped love”

  1. Kristin says:

    Those are so beautiful, and you definitely have a lot more patience and skills than I do!

  2. Lisa | The Viet Vegan says:

    You are forever the queen of pate de fruits. I could only ever hope to make them as beautifully as you. I love the chocolate dipped idea, because i ADORE chocolate covered strawberries. Beautiful photos as always, Jen!

  3. Shirley says:

    Jen, you are just so thoughtful. I wish I was your neighbor. Gorgeous

  4. Shawn says:

    These look great, and I have some leftover pectin so I’m excited to try them. I also have an Anova precision cooker and have wanted an excuse to try tempering chocolate with it, so this is perfect!

    I tried to the blood orange pâte de fruits you listed a few months back (or whenever ago it was), and they were really tasty. However, after about a day of being cut and rolled in sugar they started to sort of soak in their own liquid gooeyness and the sugar just absorbed into the cubes. They still held their shape, but there was a persistent puddle around them all.

    Any thoughts on why that might happen and suggestions to avoid it this time? Do you think it was too long/short cooking time? Too high/low boiling temp?

  5. jenyu says:

    Kristin – it just takes practice, really! :)

    Lisa – I think I just love playing with fruit. And the chocolate is handy for hiding the “ugly” slices ;)

    Shirley – xo

    Shawn – Oh yes, I think that might be because of humidity as well as the butter. The humidity makes the sugars melt onto the jellies. Even in my dry climate, they did start to absorb the sugars after a couple of days. The other thing is that the butter will soak into candy papers and such (something I learned to my horror after packaging several to give away the next day and discovering the papers had soaked up the grease). If you want to avoid excess liquid, you might try boiling the candy longer until it is thicker. The longer you boil, the more liquid is boiled off and the thicker the candy becomes. Good luck!

  6. farmerpam says:

    These look so lovely. The few times I’ve tried to master tempering turned out to be a visual failure. Still tasted great. Thanks for the tips, I think I’ll be ready to give it another try after reading this.

  7. Anne V. says:

    I know that tree! It was my favorite too. :-) Too bad the blooms have faded now, but it was lovely while it lasted.

  8. Sarah says:

    Another wonderful, informative post and I really want to try this one. I had some French Pate de fruit and think it is a great idea… kind of a healthy gummy candy.

    Beautiful post

  9. Peggasus says:

    These are beautiful; I could do these! How long in advance to you think they could be made? I am planning a birthday party for my mother’s 90th in a few weeks, and wanted to give the guests a little treat or two as she doesn’t want a cake these would be perfect.

  10. jenyu says:

    Peggasus – I think no more than a week ahead and nominally 2-3 days ahead if you can swing it. The fresh fruit flavor will begin to diminish beyond that. Happy 90th to your mom!

  11. Susanne says:

    Woman, these look totally awesome. You got skills fo sho.

  12. Maureen says:

    First of all, the cherry blossom tree looks so beautiful! I just really have to say it. And second, those are lovely strawberries. What you made are wonderful treats! You definitely got the patience and the skills. The strawberry pate de fruits are just great!

  13. Peggasus says:

    Jen! Help! I made these yesterday, exactly according to directions, refrigerated overnight, and took them out to cut and roll in fancy sugar today (I was going to blitz the sugar with some of the chocolate mint from my garden). They are a big runny mess! Is there any help for this, more Certo, maybe? GAH. If nothing else, it tastes amazing, and I will use it over ice cream or on muffins and stuff. The party is tomorrow, please help!

  14. jenyu says:

    Peggasus – Hrm, it sounds like it didn’t reach a high enough temperature to set (220°F)? Usually you can test it by taking a small bit and placing it on a clean plate. It should set in a few minutes if it’s ready. It’s also good to check that the Certo isn’t expired (although I’ve used some past the “date” and it was fine). You might be able to return it to the pot and boil it more if it’s really liquidy. Best of luck!

  15. Peggasus says:

    The Certo was not past due date. I will return it to boil again, nothing to lose at this point, I guess! Thanks for your quick response!

  16. Peggasus says:

    Jen, I dumped it all into a pan and cooked it again for another 15 minutes or so, did the little plate test and it looked OK. I refrigerated it overnight, and it came out beautifully! After my husband taste-tested one rolled in sugar, he said it was a bit sweet, so I just sprinkled turbinado sugar over the tops. There were none left at the party. Thanks for the advice!

  17. rosalie says:

    hi, i only have access to powdered pectin, could you tell me how much to use in place of the liquid? another question, why the butter? what purpose does it serve in the quality, taste, texture of the pate de fruit? thanks, rosalie

  18. jenyu says:

    rosalie – I have never used powdered pectin for this recipe, but a quick google search says to use 2 tablespoons of powdered pectin for every pouch of liquid pectin. I used 2 pouches of liquid pectin (3 oz. each). The butter is added for a smoother, silkier texture.

  19. Lucia says:

    Hi, I just discovered your website and looks amazing.
    In my country I can´t get liquid pectin, only dry.
    Could you tell me the changes I need to make in order to achieve same results?
    Thank you!!!
    Lucía from Uruguay

  20. jenyu says:

    Hi Lucia – Yes, the general rule of thumb is: 2 tablespoons of powder pectin = 3 oz. of liquid pectin. Hope that helps!

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