Candy is not often my thing. Well…that’s a bit of lie. I’m totally fine with candy. It’s sugary, it’s delicious, but for some reason, it’s pretty rare for it to not turn into a big huge mess that either just tastes so-so, or needs to be dumped entirely. Or even worse, needs to be soaked for hours (or days, or weeks) to remove the scorched on or rock hard sugar remnants that have been left behind in the pot or pan. Often, even then, the cooking implement that I’d used to make said sweet sweet atrocity becomes so destroyed by sugar (I know, sugar has a dark side outside of its health repercussions, who knew?) that its only possible future home is in the garbage, or possibly as a very strangely shaped planter (although don’t get me started on how much plants hate me. Let’s just say I might as well cut out the middle man and throw the pot in the garbage). Pan and pot replacement can get mighty pricey if you make this a regular habit. Needless to say, I just don’t opt to make candy that often because I’m a total klutz about it for some reason.
All that being said, I’ve often come across recipes for various delicious sounding flavours of pâte de fruit (for those of you who don’t know, pâte de fruit is essentially those soft, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth and sugar coated squares (see photos in this post obviously) – or often other fun shapes which are easily achieved via the use of mini (or full sized if you don’t care about having a sugar rush) cookie cutters before coating in sugar. For some strange reason, I personally see these the most frequently at Christmas time on a lot of holiday party dessert tables. This is despite the fact that they’re typically fruit flavoured. You know, because of all those fruits that are in season in the dead of winter? I’m not complaining, they’re delicious, I just think it’s weird. If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, you may also call them by their less hoity-toity sounding name of fruit jellies. I’m way too much of a snob to call them that though – I’ve got to try and be classy every chance I get to make up for my complete lack of class which is my usual go-to demeanour 😉 .
Anyway, the other week, Kevin was at some nearby-ish farm for a work thing, and he came home with this bag of farm fresh goodies for me. Considering I had just the week before mentioned to him how eagerly I was anticipating picking fresh Ontario strawberries at this place near our cottage which, at the time, wouldn’t be open for picking for another couple of weeks, when he walked into the house with warm sun-kissed Ontario strawberries, and just picked rhubarb, I nearly swooned and fell in love with him all over again (this man definitely knows the way to my fruit filled heart). I know you’re probably all throwing up in your mouth a little bit at my overly romanticizing, but I promise I’ll make it up to you with a delicious delicious recipe that will replace that horrible taste.
If you’ve never made candy before (or if you’re as inept at it as me), and really want to get into that racquet, I definitely recommend these as an excellent starting point. First of all, there are very few ingredients. Second of all, they’re delicious and the kind of thing that people are weirdly impressed by because they look complicated, fancy and really pretty. Finally, they’re so incredibly flavour customizable, that I actually can’t wait to make more of them! Pumpkin spice, carrot cake or apple flavoured ones for fall? Mint flavoured (or even chocolate mint flavoured!) for Christmas? (which I know seems like a ridiculous point to make after my rant about how weird they are to find at Christmas, but mint would obviously be an exception 😉 ). Maybe savoury or herb flavours would work out well???!!! (I’m looking at you lemon rosemary). At this rate, I obviously need to hire on some taste testers to help me consume all of these squares of goodness. Either that or I could take a page from Elaine of Seinfeld fame’s book and inform you all that I “haven’t got a square to spare” 😉 .
Yield: 32 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 cup chopped rhubarb
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon liquid pectin
- Line an 8×4 inch pan with wax or parchment paper (I taped mine so that the sides would still be smooth, but that’s optional).
- Place rhubarb in a small bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes (until at least somewhat soft).
- Purée rhubarb and strawberries in a food processor until very smooth.
- Strain the purée through a mesh sieve into a medium sized saucepan (this will likely require a bit of elbow grease. Feel free to be lazy and just dump your mixture into the saucepan, it’ll probably still work, it just won’t be as smooth).
- Add the lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the sugar to the saucepan and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Add the other 3/4 cups sugar and the pectin to the pot. Continue stirring and heating the mixture until it reaches 200F. Keep at this temperature for 2-3 minutes (lower the heat slightly if you need to).
- Increase the heat to medium-high and heat until mixture reaches 221F, again keeping at this temperature for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and immediately pour into your prepared pan.
- Allow to cool at room temperature for a couple of hours (until cooled).
- Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch squares (or use small cookie cutters if you feel like making fancy shapes).
- Roll in sugar and store in the refrigerator.