It’s December 23rd, and I’m sitting in my pajamas by the Christmas tree with a mug of coffee and the severed head of a gingerbread person from a fresh batch of cookies. There’s nothing like the holidays.
Yesterday was a solid day of baking with my sister Erin, and now we have containers with eight (!) different varieties of candies and cookies. We have a tendency to go a little overboard with our holiday treat making. I even made a dough for a ninth cookie, but after Dan talked some reason into me, I stuck it in the freezer for a later date. Way too much, I suppose, is enough.
But it’s tough to cut down the list when so many of these cookies and confections are so ridiculously good. I can’t stop making the white chocolate raspberry cookies, the orange cardamom snowflakes, the nibby buckwheat cookies, the green mint chip cookies, the salted cashew brittle, the chocolate hazelnut praline bark, the gingerbread cookies, or these brilliantly colored, chewy passion fruit pâte de fruit candies.
Pâte de fruit is a just a fancy French way of saying fruit jellies (I often just call them gummies). These passion fruit ones are something special. They taste intensely of passion fruit, all bright and citrusy with a tart edge that cuts through the sweetness.
I feel a bit like a mad scientist when I make these. I pull out the milligram scale
and the Thermapen and lots of tiny bowls. They are not exactly difficult, but they require precise measurements and timing and a fearlessness when approaching a roiling pot of hot sugar.
Even so, the way that ordinary sugar and fruit and a little glucose and a little pectin and a cream of tartar solution, when mixed in the right order and heated to the right temperature can transform in my kitchen into these delightful translucent confections leaves me a little bit in awe.
After they’ve cooled, they get sliced, rolled in sugar, and, if I’m keeping them for more than a day, wrapped in candy wrappers to prevent them from drying out.
They are a wonderful holiday treat, but I’m pretty sure they’d be welcome just about any time of year. Happy holidays everyone!
Passion Fruit Pâte de Fruit (fruit jellies, or gummies)
- 250 grams Passion fruit puree (thawed if using frozen)
- 7.6 grams Apple Pectin
- 295 grams Granulated Sugar, divided 30 grams in one bowl, 265 grams in another
- 54 grams Glucose liquid
- 1.125 grams Cream of Tartar
- 1.125 grams Water
- 4.25 grams Apricot liqueur or Kirsch
- Extra sugar for coating
- Scale out all the ingredients in separate bowls. Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the cream of tartar with the water. Set aside.
- In another small bowl, mix the pectin with the 30 grams of sugar until thoroughly combined. In a tall, heavy bottomed saucepan (I use a 2 quart All-Clad, this bubbles up, and sugar burns are b*@$# so don’t go smaller) add the passion fruit puree and the pectin and sugar mixture and heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil.
- Heat the glucose in the microwave for about 15 seconds or until it is a pourable consistency. Add the glucose and the remaining sugar to the saucepan and cook (keep stirring) to 106ºC/222°F. It will bubble up significantly, so be prepared. When it reaches temperature, remove from the heat. Stir in the cream of tartar solution. Then add the apricot liqueur or kirsch, stir, and quickly pour into the prepared pan. Let it set, undisturbed at room temperature, for several hours or overnight, until firm.
- Remove from the pan and cut with a sharp knife into 1-inch squares. Place some granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each piece in sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to two days. Wrap in candy wrappers if keeping for more than a couple of days.