Friday, May 6, 2011

So Close & Yet So Far

As I was prodding the corner of the pâte de fruit before bed last night, I was really thinking I'd nailed it this time.  Almost.

Beyond the fact that I didn't butter the parchment, cutting these things is a task to try one's patience.  First I tried a cutter dipped in hot water.  Nope.  After washing and drying the cutter, I smeared some butter on it.  Not happening.  I repeated these endeavors with a chef's knife.  Not so much.  My third attempt was a pizza cutter dipped in hot water.  Marginal success.

If you look closely you can see little white pectin blobs in a couple of them.

I say marginal success because these were just shy of having the firm texture I wanted.  So while the pizza cutter did a decent job of cutting, the pieces eventually melded back together.  Although I did get a few nice squares cut, the shape was totally lost when I tried to get them off of the parchment.  I tried to massage them back into shape with a small offset spatula dipped in water but, again, the results were marginal.

While I am a bit frustrated and it's tempting to give up, I'm too close to getting it right to throw in the towel now.  And while these are far from attractive, the taste makes up for their appearance. 

Given the fact that, by weight, there's more sugar than fruit I really thought they would be toothache sweet like my last batch was.  Surprisingly, not.  Ancho was my first choice for the chile.  The jar turned out to be empty though, so I used the cayenne.  It actually works really well.  It lets the mango flavor come through at first, and then the heat follows it up without being overwhelming.  Other than struggling to get them off of the parchment, I'm not mad at these.

But I still need to figure out how to get the firmer texture.  Do I need to increase the pectin?  Do I need to cook them to a slightly higher temperature?  Temperature may be my issue.  It's difficult to pinpoint 223 degrees F precisely on my Taylor thermometer.  I'm thinking it's time to look into a Maverick digital thermometer.

There are a few other things to clear off my calendar before I can make time to try these again.  Next week I'll be making my caramels for the food blogger bake sale in St. Louis.  And after that I have to do some cupcakes for a tasting with a potential wedding cake client.

In the meantime, this is my recipe.  I recommend the 8" pan vs the 9" x 13" I used, and definitely

Mango-Chile Pâte de Fruit
1 Tbs butter
13g powdered pectin (1 Tbs)*
625g granulated sugar, divided (about 2-3/4 cups), plus extra for dredging
1g ground cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp)
450g pureed fresh mango (2 cups)
10g glucose (1 tsp)
4g citric acid powder (1/2 tsp)
4g water (1/2 tsp)

Spray an 8” square pan with a small amount of cooking spray, or rub with some butter, and line with parchment.  (The cooking spray/butter keeps the parchment in place.)  Rub enough butter onto the parchment to create a smooth, thin layer.  You may not need it all. 

 In a small bowl, combine the pectin with 60g (1/4 cup) of the sugar and whisk to combine thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, combine 50g (3 Tbs plus 2 tsp) of sugar with the cayenne pepper and whisk to combine.

In a large pot, combine the mango puree and the sugar/cayenne mixture.  Bring to 120°F over medium heat.  Whisk in the sugar/pectin mixture and bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute.

Add the glucose and the remaining 515g (2-1/4 cups) sugar.  Heat to 223°F, stirring to avoid scorching.  Just before the mixture reaches 223°F, combine the citric acid and water.  Stir in the citric acid solution once temperature is reached and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.  Allow to sit, uncovered, for 24 hours before cutting.  Remove from the pan to a cutting board and use a pizza cutter dipped in warm water to cut into squares or try using a buttered cutter to cut into desired shapes.  Dredge in additional granulated sugar.  Coarse turbinado sugar may be pretty as well.

*For this recipe I used Sure-Jell 100% Natural Premium Fruit Pectin

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