As a child I had a terrible sweet tooth. I wish I could say that it has diminished but alas, this is not the case. What has happened is that I have developed a more sophisticated palate of sweet teeth.
It was no surprise then, for my husband to find me hovering over a large stock pot stirring up strawberries and rhubarb with copious amounts of sugar. He asked (again), “are you almost done?” And I sweetly replied, “no dear, you can not rush candy making.” You simply can not. Candy will not be rushed. Especially pâtes de fruits made sans gelatine or agar.
Pâtes de fruits, or fruit jellies, are wonderfully decadent sweet treats. But surprisingly, for a French confection that is sold in high-end pâtisseries, you’ll find it to be a simple recipe. Traditionally, it’s made with fruit, sugar, water and lemon juice. Nothing fancy there. I love that. Many American recipes add gelatine, agar or liquid pectin but I wanted to make the truest version of pâtes de fruits possible. Call me a purist if you must. I’ll own it.
So, in the spirit of science I forged on, experimenting to find a balance between the ingredients to create a natural occurring pectin that is found in the highly coveted little gems called pâtes de fruits.
Strawberry-rhubarb pâtes de fruits
Yields 1 12 X 9 baking dish (to be cut to your desire)
- 1 pound strawberries (washed, hulled, quartered and then weighed)
- 1 pound rhubarb (washed, trimmed and cut to 1 inch pieces and then weighed)
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 lemon, zested (optional)
- 2 tablespoons water
- white baking sugar, extra fine
- castor sugar, superfine
In a large stock pot, combine strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, lemon zest and water. Mix and turn stove temperature to medium (on a scale of 1-7, about 4). Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring almost constantly. When the strawberries and rhubarb are soft and mushy, remove from heat and mash thoroughly.
Using a food scale, measure the weight of a medium bowl. Note the weight. Then push the mixture through a fine metal sieve into the bowl. This will take a bit of time, strength and patience. If you have a food processor, now is the time to pull it out of the cupboard!
After pushing the mixture through the sieve, weigh the bowl again and subtract the weight of the bowl. Return the mixture back to the large stock pot and match with an equal amount of extra fine baking sugar. Example: I had exactly 610g of strawberry-rhubarb mixture and I matched it with 610g extra fine baking sugar.
Cook over medium heat (4-4.5 on my stove top), stirring constantly. After 30-35 minutes, it should be dark, glossy and create a tail (shown below). Remove from heat.
Pour into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. If you have a busy kitchen, gently drape an additional piece of parchment paper over the dish, taking care that it does not touch the pâtes de fruits. Set aside for 24-48 hours. Or bake (uncovered) at 150° F for 8 hours and then let rest for an additional 8 hours.
Once set, remove from baking dish and cut. I decided to go with classic squares but I think stars would rather smart.
Pour a small amount of superfine castor sugar onto a baking sheet and start to coat each side with sugar.
Work each piece, adding more sugar to the baking sheet as needed.
The result? Sweet, chewy goodness. I think they’re simply divine.
Enjoy! XOXO, Em