Friday, October 27, 2006

pâtes de fruits

apple, raspberry and pear pâtes de fruits

Lately I have been busy with life and work, so unfortunately I haven’t had much time to blog. I did however make time to research and make one of my favourite confections, pâtes de fruits (fruit jellies).

My post this week is my entry for two different blogging events. First, Canadian Blogging By Post #2 hosted by the lovely and wonderful Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict. The theme for this second installment of CBBP is “Our Seasons Bounty”, which is where I got the inspiration for making pâtes de fruits in the first place. I started with apples because they are in season, inexpensive and contain lots of pectin.

The other blogging event I am participating in is Sugar High Friday
#24, hosted by Jeanne of Cook Sister!. This month’s theme is Little Bites of Delight (petit fours, mignardises, friandises). Since I was making the pâtes de fruits, I thought that it was a great fit as a mignardises. I remember it being served to me as a mignardises when I had a spectacular dessert tasting at Les Chèvres when I was in Montréal earlier this year.

I tried a few different recipes for pâtes de fruits. This recipe is relatively simple and gave good results. The recipe is from Lenotre's Ice Creams and Candies. In this book, there is more specfic information regarding different flavours of pâtes de fruits and cooking times. These homemade fruit jellies are softer than commercial ones but taste just as good. If you are wanting to make the ones exactly like what you find in the stores, use apple pectin. Apple pectin is however quite difficult to find, but if you are able to find it, I suggest using it for a firmer jelly.

Pâtes de Fruits (Basic Fruit Jelly Recipe)

500 g fruit pulp/puree
600g sugar
15g butter
170ml liquid, pectin based, jelling agent (Certo)
For coating (optional)
Coarse, granulated sugar

Preparing the fruit: wash, peel, and seed the fruit as necessary. Most fruits are then pureed. Some fruits are used as they are and others are mixed with syrup from canned fruit. Because of their relatively neutral taste, pear, peach or apricot syrups are the best; they can even be mixed together.

Preparing the Mold and Jelling Agent: On a baking sheet or other surface that can stand high temperatures without cracking or warping, place a sheet of nonstick parchment paper and set the metal frame, flan ring, or metal rulers on it; or simply line a small brownie pan with parchment paper.

Cooking the Fruit Jelly: In a large saucepan, place the fruit pulp or fruit pulp-syrup mixture and the sugar. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat, stirring constantly with a spatula. Once a full, rolling boil is reached, start the cooking time; this will be from 4 to 9 minutes, always at a rapid boil and stirring constantly, depending on fruit used. Add the butter halfway through the cooking time. When it is time, remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the liquid jelling agent; stir vigorously for a few seconds to be sure that is completely mixed into the jelly mixture.

To Mold, Cut, and Serve the Fruit Jellies: As soon as the jelling agent has been stirred in, pour the boiling hot fruit jelly into the frame or brownie pan. Allow to set and cool completely, which will take at least 2-3 hours. When the jelly is completely cold, run the blade of a knife all around the edge to detach it from the frame or paper; then cut it into squares about 1 inch. Lift off the frame; then roll the squares one at a time in granulated sugar (preferably large grained). This step is not absolutely necessary; it does, however, keep the jellies from sticking to each other if piled on top of each other when served and makes them more attractive.

To Store: The uncut jellies will keep for 2 months wrapped in the non-stick parchment paper it is molded on. Placed in a box, and kept in a cool cellar or the refrigerator. If kept in the refrigerator, the jelly picks up a little moisture but it keeps its shine better. Once cut and rolled in sugar, the jellies will keep for a week in a closed container in the refrigerator; it is preferable to place them in individual paper cases if they are to be stored in this way to keep them from sticking together; these homemade fruit jellies are softer than commercial ones.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

indian sweets : part 2

My exploration with Indian desserts continues. Excluding the mango lassi that I made, the desserts this week are a bit more technical than last week. They are more technical because they require you to understand the temperature, consistency and viscosity of your ingredients. Making these sweets are much like making candies and confections. I want to stress that I am an amateur when it comes to making Indian sweets. I did make mistakes, I overcooked my Mysore pak the first time, but I persevered and tried it again. My one key advice when making any of these or any other Indian desserts is to use the best ingredients possible. These desserts contain very few ingredients, so the quality of what you put in makes all the difference. I have also found it helpful to make my own ghee, that way you know the quality and freshness of the butter that is going into your dessert. Here are the four Indian desserts I tried my hand at this week:

A simple and yummy mango lassi. If you have never tried a lassi, it is a simple a yogurt and milk based drink it can be either sweet or salty. I prefer the sweet kind and with the addition of mango it is just plain good.

Mysore pak is a traditional sweet, which originates from… you guessed it, Mysore, India. It is made from besan (chick pea flour), sugar, ghee and cardamom. I found that the most helpful tips for making this from the knowledgeable Indira of Mahanandi, who has a wonderful blog and is clearly an expert at Indian cuisine.

Coconut burfi made with fresh shredded coconut, sugar, ghee and cardamom. Coconut burfi should be flavourful with a soft and chewy consistency.

Almond burfi is a common type of burfi, other common nut burfi’s include: cashew and pistachio. Almond burfi is made from ground almonds, sugar, ghee, and cardamom. It holds together and has the same weight as fudge, but it has a different texture and mouth feel.

My two favourites this week are the mango lassi and the almond burfi. If you try out either of these recipes, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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Monday, October 16, 2006


The International Union of Bakers and Bakers-Confectioners (UIB) declared the 16th of October as World Bread Day.

So Zorra from Kochtopf is hosting a “World Bread Day” blogging event.

Although, I didn’t bake a loaf of bread for this event. I wanted to share the challah bread that I have been enjoying almost every Friday since I moved to Toronto. Challah is a braided egg bread which is soft, moist and flavourful. I think that the best challah in Toronto is from Harbord bakery. Harbord Bakery is one of the oldest Jewish bakeries in Toronto; it has been open since 1926. Other tasty treats on my list from Harbord bakery include their sweet cheese buns and rugelach.

Harbord Bakery
115 Harbord Street
416 922 5767

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Monday, October 09, 2006

indian sweets: part one

This month, I decided that I would learn about Indian sweets and desserts. I have always enjoyed seeing and eating these sweets, but I never entertained the idea of making them because I always imagined them to be time consuming and laborious to produce. Last week, after eating at some lovely Indian restaurants and talking to people who knew about Indian desserts, I decided I wanted to learn more. So, I did some research and made a list of some of the sweets that I wanted to make. If you are interested in knowing more about your favourite Indian desserts, check out this nifty information from Wikipedia.

I made four desserts this week: first, a
kulfi, which is a dense frozen dessert made with condensed or evaporated milk, sugar, pistachio, cardamom and saffron;

second, a
sooji halwa (a semolina pudding) that consisted of semolina, milk, sugar, water, ghee, cardamom and raisins;

third, a
mango kulfi, which contained evaporated milk, cardamon, sugar and mango puree;

and last, a
kheer, which is a rich rice pudding often made with white basmati rice, milk, sugar, cardamom and chopped nuts.

All four of these desserts were surprisingly simple to prepare.

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