The summer that I was 20 I lived at the beach. With the exception of some underage drinking and a single encounter with Ocean City’s finest law enforcement officers, it was a pretty unremarkable summer. To be honest, working three jobs left me little time to get into much trouble at all. Or to develop a decent tan. But knowing what we do about sun exposure and skin cancer, maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
It pains me to realize that my beach summer was twenty years ago. Instead of mourning my long lost youth, I can use a little kitchen magic to recapture one of my favorite food memories of the summer of 1991…pate de fruit.
One of my three jobs that summer was in a candy shop. The same place that gave birth to my abhorrence to fudge also allowed me to develop a love for orange slices. I probably “sampled” more of those than I actually sold. Even though the statute of limitations is probably long expired on that transgression, let’s just keep this confession between you and me.
The orange slices won me over at the very first bite. The crunchy sugar exterior gave way to a pleasantly chewy, fruity inside. It was like Sour Patch Kids, only a million times better. And without the scrunchy sour face. I hadn’t had an orange slice since that summer but over the years I had run across recipes for diy versions. I would look at them dreamily recalling what it felt like to be 20 years old and carefree. And then I would turn the page, feeling just a wee bit sad.
It wasn’t until my Big Summer Potluck pal Tracy posted a recipe for rhubarb pate de fruit that I decided to just get over myself and try making them. No, they would not turn back the hands of time. And that’s ok. I don’t want to get stuck living in the past.
Orange slices may have been me at 20. Rhubarb Pate de Fruit is me at 40.
Rhubarb Pate de Fruit
Adapted from Sugarcrafter
BAH Note: Before I set out to make these beauties, I emailed Sugarcrafter to see if she had any additional guidance to offer on the recipe. Her only comment to me was to watch the temperature as the mixture cooks. So don’t get distracted with Angry Birds, email, or wrangling a wayward child and walk away from the stove. And don’t forget that boiling sugar juice is HOT STUFF that will inflict pain and suffering to those who do not heed its power….so yeah, this isn’t really a child friendly recipe for those of you following along at home. PS, you’ll also need either a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer that you can clip on the side of your pot.
- 1/2 – 3/4 pound rhubarb, roughly chopped
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 ounces (1 envelope) liquid pectin
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Line an 8 inch square baking dish with a parchment paper sling (two pieces of parchment, folded to fit, laid across each other in the pan).
Blitz 1/2 pound of rhubarb in a food processor until completely pureed. Strain the juices through a fine mesh sieve, using a spoon to push the juice out of the pulp. Measure out 3/4 cup of rhubarb juice and discard the pulp. If you don’t get enough juice, repeat the process with the remaining 1/4 pound of rhubarb.
Heat the rhubarb juice, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large sauce pan over medium heat until it reaches 113 degrees, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches 113 degrees, add the remaining sugar, stir and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 238 degrees. At 238 degrees, add the liquid pectin and boil for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the top lightly with sugar and let the pan cool for two hours or until the pate de fruit is completely set.
When cool and set, use the parchment sling to lift the candy out of the baking dish. Place the candy, still on the parchment sheets on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the candy into bite sized pieces, cleaning the blade in hot water between cuts. Roll the pieces in sugar until they are well coated and store in an airtight container.