Thanksgiving will be a quiet affair for us this year. Perhaps it’s the need for an extra-long period of holiday cheer, but my mind is solely on the Christmas season. Our Thanksgiving dinner will be simple, yet delicious, with the highlight being the final dessert. In lieu of pie, this year there will be sparkling sugar-coated squares of Cranberry Pear Pâte de Fruit. A flavor-packed French confection made with fresh fruit that’s akin to fruit jellies. Here, they feature a dual layer of tart cranberry and sweet pear for a complexity of flavor that tastes like the holidays. They also happen to be vegan and gluten-free making them an excellent gift of gratitude to send home with guests no matter their dietary preferences. As for us, we’ll be enjoying these bite-sized gems as we drive to our local tree farm to pick out this year’s Christmas tree. Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!
Helpful Tips For This Recipe
*Pure cranberry juice can be found at your local supermarket. Pear puree can be made at home by peeling, coring, chopping, and processing in a food processor until completely smooth. Fruit purees also can sometimes be found at local restaurant supply stores or specialty grocers.
*Yellow pectin is a main ingredient in this recipe that cannot be substituted without affecting the final texture of the pate de fruit. It’s specific to making pâte de fruit and is essential to giving it that final silky texture, so your best bet is to purchase it online. For lower priced options, contact the website supplier to inquire after smaller quantities that are available.
*Food grade citric acid is necessary to set the final candy. This is a simple ingredient that can be found at most health food stores or online.
Pâte de fruit isn’t difficult to make and is similar to making jam. It’s boiling sugar and fruit puree to a specific temperature in order for it to set. As with all confectionery recipes, make sure to read the entire recipe first, have all the ingredients measured out before beginning, and have the candy thermometer ready to go. Since you’ll be working with hot boiling fruit sugar it can’t hurt to have a bowl of ice water nearby in case of the stray burn either (to plunge your hand into). Often times, pâte de fruit has the tendency to “weep” after it’s set. This is usually due to not cooking the final mixture to the proper temperature or adding the ingredients too quickly. To prevent this from happening, make sure to use a thermometer and allow the mixture to return to a boil when specified. Basically, follow the instructions and all will be a success.
Cranberry-Pear Pâte de Fruit
Makes 48 one-inch squares
Pear Pâte de Fruit
5 tsp + 1 cup (235g) sugar, divided
2 tsp (5g) yellow pectin
7 oz (200g) pear puree
2 Tbsp (44g) glucose or light corn syrup
1/2 tsp (3g) citric acid
Cranberry Pâte de Fruit
2 Tbsp + 1 ½ cups (341g) sugar, divided
3 tsp (7g) yellow pectin
8 oz (262g) pure cranberry juice
2 Tbsp (36g) glucose or light corn syrup
1/2 tsp (3g) citric acid
For the Pear Pâte de Fruit
Line an 8-by-8 baking pan with parchment paper on both the bottom and sides.
In a small bowl, combine 5 teaspoons of sugar and yellow pectin (this will help to minimize clumping when added to the liquid). Set aside.
Place the pear puree in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer attached to the inside. Slowly add the sugar-pectin mixture in steady stream into the pear puree; whisking constantly to combine. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in glucose, or light corn syrup if using, and bring back to a boil. Whisk in half of the remaining sugar and continue whisking until mixture returns to a boil. Add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk until mixture returns to a boil. Continue cooking the mixture until it reaches 216F (102C) on the candy thermometer, about 4 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the citric acid. Pour the pear pâte de fruit mixture into the prepared baking pan. Working quickly, tilt the pan to evenly distribute the mixture into all corners creating an even layer. Set on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes, or until set to the touch, before adding the second layer.
For the Cranberry Pâte de Fruit
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of sugar and yellow pectin. Set aside.
Place the cranberry juice in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer attached to the inside. Slowly add the sugar-pectin mixture in steady stream into the cranberry juice; whisking constantly to combine. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Whisk in glucose, or light corn syrup if using, and bring back to a boil. Whisk in half of the remaining sugar and continue whisking until mixture returns to a boil. Add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk until mixture returns to a boil. Continue cooking the mixture until it reaches 223F (106C) on the candy thermometer, about 5 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the citric acid. Pour cranberry pâte de fruit mixture on top of the set pear pâte de fruit layer. Allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a large bowl with 1 cup of sugar. Set aside.
Using the parchment paper as handles, gently pull the pâte de fruit out of the baking pan and set on a cutting board. Generously sprinkle the pâte de fruit with sugar and rub it across the entire surface. Carefully, flip the pâte de fruit over and peel off the parchment paper. Again, generously sprinkle with sugar and rub it across the entire surface. Coating both sides of the pâte de fruit with sugar will make it easier to handle while cutting. Flip the pâte de fruit right side up on the cutting board with the cranberry layer on top.
Using a large chef’s knife, cut the pâte de fruit into 1-inch squares; rinsing the blade under very hot water and drying it off between cuts. Drop a few cut squares into the sugar bowl and roll around until all the sides are completely coated. Place the coated squares on the prepared baking sheet, evenly spaced, not touching. Repeat the process until all the squares are coated. Serve and enjoy.
Allow any remaining pâte de fruit to set out uncovered, at room temperature, for 24 hours. This period of time will help to create a very thin crust around the candies to prevent “weeping.” Next day, store the coated pâte de fruit in a single layer, in an airtight container, for up to two weeks.
You can also find this recipe in Feast Magazine’s November print issue! If you’re in the Kansas City and St. Louis area, pick up a copy at a local restaurant, bakery, grocer, or coffee shop. Share your own creations of this recipe with me on Instagram by tagging @now_forager.