Les Confiseries (confectionaries) have been around for some 500 years, according to The National Syndicate of Confiseries. Confectionaries today in France include all of the usual suspects: suckers, caramels, marshmallows, chewing gum, marzipan, nougat, etc. There's also something called a pâte de fruit. The literal translation is "dough from fruit", yet another example where the literal translation gets you nowhere. So what is it? The closest thing I can relate it to is a gum drop, but it's not at all like a gum drop! Gum drops are cone-shaped, although I'm not very concerned about its shape. More importantly, gum drops tend to be very sugary, and to my knowledge are made with artificial fruit....and sometimes spices. At least this is what I remember from all my trick-or-treating days as a child.
A better translation for pâte de fruit is simply fruit jelly squares. They are firm but soft in texture, and have a very rich, intensely fruity taste. They are satisfyingly sweet without being overly sugary, if you know what I mean. And yet, they are rolled in sugar. Go figure. (Another french paradox.)
It's good to understand that they have their own appellation (codification). The name "pâte de" followed by the name of the fruit, is reserved for those pâte de fruits in which 100% of the fruit pulp used comes from the fruit cited in its name. And just to add a tiny bit of confusion, this equals at least 50% of fruit in the finished product (you'll see why later in the recipe). As an example, "pâte de pomme" (apple jelly square) is made with 100% apple pulp. A pâte de coing is made with 100% coing (quince), etc, etc. The second classification is identified by "pâte de fruit" followed by the name of the fruit. This indicates it is a pâte de fruit in which at least 25% of the fruit pulp used comes from the name of the fruit (which then becomes at least 12.5% in the finished product). Examples of this category include pâte de fruit au pomme, or pâte de fruit à coing. Or simply pâte de fruit pomme. The 3rd classification is called "pâte de fruit aromatisée à" followed by the name of fruit (a pâte de fruit with the flavor of...). The label can also use such words as pâte de fruit goût à or saveur à - all of these things are indicating that there's very little real fruit in the candy. Maybe this category is more like the gum drop afterall...
All of this might sound a little too complicated and maybe it's easier reading if you understand the language, but please bear with me. Such things are quite important in France. The confectionary professionals voluntarily codified it in 1965 to maintain standards of quality and tradition. I'm all for that, given the variation in how these confections can be made - something I hadn't realized until I started doing it myself.
But, what about making a pâte de fruit? I've only tried two times now. The first time was with fresh rasberries & they failed. I ended up with a really nice rasberry jam, but not a pâte de fruit. Yesterday they turned out perfectly, using apples this time. I used two different recipes - maybe this is why. Or maybe I just got lucky. Who knows. Regardless, from now own, I'll stick to yesterday's recipe:
Pate de fruit à Pomme
(Recipe thanks to Les Vergers Boiron)
500 g apple purée
50 g sugar + 13 g pectin jaune in powder form
508 g sugar
9 g tartaric acid solution
110 g glucose
10 g Calvados (optional)
extra sugar for coating
- Make a tartaric acid solution (50:50 tartaric acid to water) and heat until dissolved. Set aside. You can also use fresh lemon juice instead of tartaric acid (a natural acid found in certain plants such as grape, banana or tamarind and acts as an antioxidant while also adding a slightly sour taste).
- Mix pectin jaune (13g) with sugar (50g). Set aside.
- Finish the rest of your mis-en-place: weigh ingredients (all except glucose); place a metal frame on a cookie sheet with parchment paper underneath (for pouring finished product into at the end); Find heat resistant spatula and wisk, and place next to stove in a bowl of water; Have thermometer ready to go.
- Heat fruit purée on stove top until hot. Sprinkle in the pectin/sugar mixture. Bring to boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
- Add sugar in 3-4 steps, making sure it's well dissolved before adding the next addition.
- Add glucose. I removed the pan from the heat & placed it on a scale & weighed the glucose directly in. It's too thick otherwise..a consistency like corn syrup.
- Cook until the temperature reaches 107°C. This takes a good 10 minutes or so, so don't worry about measuring the temperature in the beginning. Do be worried about stirring or whisking constantly because this is the stage it can burn. It's going to get all hot & bubbly & reduce very slightly. Careful with this step....you're working with molten hot sugar.... Keep whisking. Remove from heat once you reach 107°C.
- Add the tartaric acid solution & wisk.
- Add the Calvados & wisk. Watch out - it can briefly bubble violently.
- Immediately pour into metal frame. You don't have a whole lot of time here; it starts to thicken immediately. Let rest 2-3 hours uncovered.
- Cut into squares, or whatever shape you want. Fill bowl with sugar. Toss in a bunch of fruit gels. Coat all sides. Sugar coating: optional but definitely traditional.
Can be stored a very long time. I read it's OK for 6 - 9 months. All that sugar helps preserve them. In fact, pâte de fruits were originally created as a way to preserve harvested fruit.
One question you might have is where to get the fruit purée. I made my own with apples. You can also buy fruit purées by the jar at nearby store, G. Detou. Or, you can buy them frozen. At Ecole Ferrandi, we used the brand Les Vergers Boiron - that's what most professionals use and what I would use if I could buy it without a professional's license. (Hopefully soon...)
You might also wonder if you need to use pectin if you make a purée with a pectin-rich fruit (such as apple or pear). I would say yes, if you want to get the right texture of a pâte de fruit. Otherwise, you might end up with a form of jelly or something that doesn't solidify like it should. Back in the middle ages when they couldn't buy pectin off the shelf, they surely figured out the right proportions to get it right...but still...I say use it!
On the subject of pectin, there are different types of pectins. Here in France, "pectin jaune" is the one specifically used to make pâte de fruits and other confiseries. In the US, I think it's called apple pectin. But, be sure to use the right kind!
Pâte de fruit pomme au Calvados de Normandie....a perfect mignardise. Another french treat worth understanding and trying.