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Pates de fruit literally means fruit paste when translated from French into English. These little 'fruit paste' candies may also be called fruit gems because many of them are pressed into molds while they set. This produces brightly-colored, translucent shapes that add visual appeal to most tables. When you’re looking for quality pates de fruit, it is important that you consider shape, size, color, and ingredients in addition to the flavor. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you also have the option of making these edible gems yourself.
One of the first things to consider when you’re choosing pates de fruit is flavor. For instance, the gorgeous, burgundy sheen of cranberry gems won’t matter much if you don’t like the flavor of cranberries. So look first for flavors you think you’ll enjoy. The ingredients used in pates de fruit are so widely varied that you’re almost certain to find a handful of agreeable flavorings.
Many specialty candy stores and candy boutiques sell these pretty little treats. If you can’t find them in stores, you might be able to locate some quality samples online. In these cases, read the ingredients carefully to see whether or not the pates de fruit are of good quality. Some of the best recipes should include plenty of real fruit, sugar, and pectin or gelatin. Try to avoid products that use artificial flavors or colors because these could affect the taste.
After you’ve chosen your favorite flavors, feel free to look at shape, size, and color. Most pates de fruit are dusted with powdered sugar, giving them a delicate appearance. Other varieties have no sugar coating, making them look translucent. When it comes to shapes, you can choose among ordinary squares, little domes, diamond shapes, and confections with symbols stamped into the top. If you’re hosting a tea or a fancy brunch, you may want to go with shaped and molded pates de fruit. Plainer-looking versions may be given as gifts to friends and family, or eaten as dessert after an ordinary meal.
If you just can’t find what you’re looking for, you can certainly try making pates de fruit at home. Stone fruits — like apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines — are traditional choices. You may also use mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, and a variety of other tropical fruits and melons. Most recipes call for about 2.5 parts each of fruit puree and sugar, 0.25 parts pectin, and sometimes a packet of unflavored gelatin.
The ingredients should typically be stirred vigorously over low heat until they become thick and gummy, like runny mashed potatoes. At this point, the mixture may be poured into a buttered cookie sheet or candy molds and allowed to cool in the refrigerator overnight. You can release them from the molds and sprinkle them with powdered sugar, edible glitter, or granulated sugar.
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