I first had pâté de fruits in France when I was in college. My Dear Husband and I, then dating, rented a car in Calais with no plan and no reservations except for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and set off to wander for a month. It was pure bliss. Our little rented Renault puttered along, and we stayed in homey digs to save our money for the best food we could afford. I discovered many things on that trip, not least of which is the fact that my husband is the best travel partner I could dream up. He was in charge of speaking French, I was in charge of reading French menus, and I learned enough German before the trip to ask for a Doppelzimmer mit Bad and to muddle through ordering at a restaurant. To be so free again!
This is a beautiful candy from start to finish. The pears bob in a lovely, deep purple sugar syrup alongside the blueberries until they are the same deep hue. The puree is smooth and fragrant. And the finished candy is a burst of fruit against a floral background. It takes a little while to cook down the puree, but the process is otherwise quick, and the results so worth your time. Pâté de fruits is often shaped into miniature versions of the fruit it embodies, but this version is much simpler. Whenever I make it, it brings back memories of our long and wonderful trip together so many years ago.
This recipe is part of the Cookie Baking and Candy Making Plan for Christmas 2010 (here).
Music for making pate de fruits for Christmas
En la Fete de Noel, traditional French carols performed by La Petite Bande de Montréal under director Martin Dagenais
Lavender Blueberry Pear Pate de Fruits
from Brittles, Barks, & Bonbons by Charity Ferreira
Yield: about 75 ¾“ cubes
2 pounds Anjou pears
1 pound frozen blueberries
4 c. sugar, divided
½ c. water
2 three-ounce packages liquid pectin
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. finely ground culinary lavender
- Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, or use an 8-inch square disposable aluminum pan.
- Wash the pears, peel them, slice them in half, and core them.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the pears, the blueberries, two cups of the sugar, and the water, and simmer gently until the pears are quite tender, about 20 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool slightly. Then puree it in a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, until it is very smooth.
- Return the puree to the pan and add the pectin, lemon juice, lavender, and one cup of sugar.
- Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring frequently, especially as it reduces, until the mixture is quite thick, about one hour. It should part briefly when you run a wooden spoon down the middle.
- Scrape the puree into your pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.
- Let it cool at room temperature for an hour. Then cover it with cellophane and refrigerate it for two hours, or up to two weeks.
- Keep the pate de fruits in the refrigerator until you would like to serve it. Then, place the remaining sugar in a dish. Invert the pate de fruits onto a cutting board and slice it into ¾“ squares. Roll the squares in the sugar. If you wish to serve only a few cubes, just cut a slice from the pan and sugar a handful of cubes. It will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
Resources for hard-to-find ingredients here.