Of all the wonderful confections available throughout the world, pates de fruit are widely recognized as one of the best. These sophisticated candies are usually found through high-end chocolatiers and specialty gourmet food stores. They are bite-sized pieces of fruit jellies sanded with crystallized sugar. Although they may not sound like much, the process for making them is quite intricate, using only the best, typically unsweetened, purest fruit purees.
Pates de fruit translates from French to “fruit paste,” and considerable time is dedicated to making the base. Some recipes call for the use of fruit preserves, others, syrups and jellies. If using fresh fruit, cooks will have to puree it first into liquid form. The fruit puree is heated in order to thicken it, then processed until smooth. Warm liquid gelatin is added to the puree, which turns it into a thick fruit paste. The pates de fruit is then spread into large jelly pans to cool. Once cooled, the jelly pans are inverted, and the solidified paste is cut into cubes.
Retail confectioners and pastry chefs use specialty sanding sugars to coat the sticky pates de fruit. Sanding sugars adhere well, but can be very expensive. Common table sugar, also known as granulated sugar, is sometimes used.
Biting into these confections can be surprising at first. In one bite comes a powerful force of fruit, citric acids, and fruit juice all at once. Pates de fruit are chewy in texture and combine the sweet and sour flavors of natural fruit juice. Those who love gummy candies will be overjoyed with what can be called their “adult version,” as they can be made from natural fruit and robust citric flavorings. Popular varieties include mango, passion fruit, quince, blackberry, pear, and pineapple.
Due to the cost of ingredients as well as the time needed to prepare pates de fruit, they can be relatively expensive candies. A small box can cost around $10 US Dollars (USD), and higher quality retailers may sell them for as much as $25 USD a box. During the winter holiday months, the candies are in highest demand.
Pates de fruit typically do not have a long shelf life, and must typically be consumed within a week. However, people who enjoy them don’t worry about shelf life, as most are eaten and enjoyed as soon as they are purchased.