There are two primary reasons I wanted to make this recipe for you dear readers: 1. Pâte de Fruit is THE most intense burst of mouthwatering fruit jelly you will ever have, and 2. I love saying the name “Pâte de Fruit!” As you may have already deduced, this is a French delicacy and the term is pronounced “pat de fwee.” Come on, say it with me, pat-de-fwee. It’s seriously fun to say and you’ll find that it will stick in your head much like the jelly will stick to your fingers!
Pâte de Fruit literally means fruit paste in French and is born of a purée of fresh fruit, sugar and pectin heated to a thick jam consistency. It may be made with any fruit, although, my choice of fruit is most often dictated by what is in season at the moment. These strawberries are the first of the season and were calling my name. The addition of the hint of lime is a perfect marriage and pairs beautiful with the berry, balancing its sweetness harmoniously.
16 ounces (454 grams) fresh strawberries, hulled
2 cups (454 grams) sugar, plus an additional ½ cup (114 grams) sugar for coating
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lime
¼ cup (2 ounces/ 59 ml) liquid pectin
How to use them:
Prepare an 8 inch x 8 inch pan by lining it with parchment paper. Place the strawberries directly in the blender, zest the lime on top of the strawberries and squeeze half of the lime in the blender as well.Purée the strawberries until liquefied and no visible pieces of strawberry remain. Initially, I pulse the mixture and stop to stir frequently. However, once the strawberries are sufficiently puréed and do not need stirring, I set the blender on “liquefy” or the highest setting possible and let it go for a full minute to ensure the mixture is completely and thoroughly smooth.
Pour the strawberry purée through a mesh strainer into a small aluminum pot and coax the purée through the strainer with a spoon as it is fairly thick. Straining the purée allows you to capture any large strawberry bits and gives you a refined, smooth texture. However, the straining is not a necessary step and you can choose to skip it and pour the mixture straight into the pot if you would like. Add ½ cup sugar to the strawberry purée and stir on medium heat. Place a candy thermometer in the pot and heat until the mixture reaches 140°F/60°C. This will happened very quickly, within the first few minutes of cooking. Add the pectin, a naturally derived gelling agent, and the remaining 1 ½ cups of sugar and stir until incorporated. Continue to heat the mixture.
Just keep in mind, this process will take approximately 25-40 minutes, depending on your stove top and the degree of heat applied. It is important to stir frequently to distribute the heat and to keep the mixture from sticking.Please note, it may seem like the temperature comes to a screeching halt when you reach 210F/99C, but it will go higher, I promise! This is the point that you have to keep stirring continuously until the temperature reaches 222F/105C. As you can see from comparing the “before/after” pictures of the pot when we first began heating the mixture to the time it reaches 222F/105C, it has greatly reduced in volume to half its original liquid content as you have evaporated all of the water from the mixture and are left with this intense bite of pure fruit that is better than any fruit candy you will ever have!Once you reach the desired temperature, remove the mixture from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Allow the jelly to cool and set for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Lift the parchment paper and jelly out of the pan and place it on a cutting board. Using a large heavy knife that you have run under hot water and a ruler to guide you, score a small line at every inch and then bring your knife down allowing the weight of the knife to cut through the length of the jelly. Every few lines the knife may become sticky, just rinse it in hot water and dry. Once you have cut the Pâte de Fruit, you can then use a small knife to help you lift the pieces if you need.Dip you fingers in the 1/2 cup of remaining sugar and gently lift a piece off while simultaneously pulling the parchment away. Roll the piece of jelly in the sugar, coating it completely, and place it on parchment paper. It is now ready to delight and awaken your palette. When you bite through the jelly, the tame tender texture quickly gives way to the powerful punch of the pure fruit. You can actually see the strawberry essence bursting from this tiny gem. Now, you can hoard them all for yourself, which I guarantee you’ll be inclined to do, or be sweet and share the fruit jelly love!