It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
At the restaurant where I started my career as a pastry chef, we never sent customers home without some sort of sweet taste lingering in their mouths. We'd often surprise guests with a bountiful plate filled with house-made cookies and candies. At the end of my shift, I never wanted to leave without a little sweet either, so I'd reach for a pâte de fruit in whatever flavor we happened to have that night.
These pâtes de fruits taste like Fruit Roll Ups, a rare but favorite snack of my childhood. They’re fresh-tasting and intensely flavored, with all of the apple's fruit essence concentrated into a small candy, coated in a sweet sugar crunch.
They take a little time and a bit of attention, but the reward is a candy that feels fancy and finds its home on cookie plates and cheese plates alike.
Makes 3 dozen
8 medium apples (tart apples or a mix), cored and sliced thickly
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Lightly coat an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with flavorless oil or cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment, then lightly cover the parchment in oil. In a large pot, combine the apples and 1 cup water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue to cook 5 to 10 minutes more, until the apples are cooked through and falling completely apart, like applesauce. If the apples start to look dry before getting saucy, cover with the lid.
Press the mixture through a fine sieve or a food mill so that you have a smooth, peel-free purée.
More: Looking for another apple-y use for your food mill? Try Roasted Apple Butter.
Return the purée to the pot and add the salt, sugar, and lemon juice. Simmer for about an hour. Stir often and watch for changes in thickness, scraping the bottom of the pan often to prevent scorching.
After an hour, the apple mixture should mound up and start to stiffen. Once it has done that, spread the mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan.
Let the jellies set in the pan for several hours or overnight to cool and firm. (If the mixture is still quite wet you can put the pan into the oven at 150° F until it feels firm.)
The mixture will stiffen as it cools, so you can check the final consistency by placing a small amount onto a plate and sticking it in the freezer for a few moments.
Cut into 1-inch squares and coat in sugar. The granulated sugar will eventually dissolve, so only cover the ones you plan to serve right away. Without the sugar coating, the paste is wonderful served alongside aged cheddar on a cheese plate.
Photos by Ashley Rodriguez