Thursday, February 16, 2012

Anonymous Citrus and Chile Pâte de Fruit

Yes, that’s correct:  Anonymous Citrus.  I could have called it “little, orange unidentified citrus fruits that finally grew on my tree and chile pâte de fruit” but I get annoyed by recipes with really long titles. 

The truth is that I still don’t know for certain what kind of tree I have.  I may never be certain.  I thought mandarins until I tasted one.  Then I thought calamondins.  Then I saw Shea’s Rangpur limes and that seemed like a very plausible option.  I do not know what these are.  What I do know is that they are small, extremely tart fruits on a thorny tree that put up so much of a fight when I tried to pick them that I had to clip the stems.  If there are any citrus experts out there, feel free to chime in with suggestions.

Beyond trying to figure out what kind of citrus I have, I’ve also had to figure out what to do with it.  As you may recall, the marmalade didn’t quite work out as well as I had hoped.  In light of that, I didn’t feel the need to make any more with the remaining six cups of prepared fruit.  Since these fruits seem to have a very high pectin content, I felt a pâte de fruit attempt was in order.  

All in all, these turned out better than I anticipated.  I was fairly certain they would set well, but I was more concerned about the taste.  To be honest, these probably will not be my favorite, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The more of them I ate, the more I liked them.  Since the fruits are so tart and lime-like and I think lime and chile are a fabulous combination, I added one-half teaspoon of cayenne.  You don’t even notice it at first.  At first, you get the sweetness from the sugar coating.  Then the tart from the citrus hits you as the pâte de fruit starts to melt in your mouth.  It’s not until you swallow that you notice the chile and then it heats up the back of your throat.  If you don’t like spicy, the cayenne could be reduced or completely omitted.

The recipe is below if you ever find yourself with a surplus of small, extremely tart citrus fruits.

(Apologies for the blurry pics.  I realized halfway through I forgot to change the settings on my camera.)

The set on this was nearly perfect. 

It cut like a dream - no swearing involved.
I rolled some in granulated sugar, some in turbinado.

Anonymous Citrus and Chile Pâte de Fruit

digital scale; large (about 6 quart), heavy-bottomed pan; blender or food processor; mesh sieve; heat-proof silicon spatula; candy thermometer; parchment paper; 9 x 13 baking pan; containers for measuring out ingredients; baking sheet for finished candies

12 - 13 Rangpur limes, calamondin oranges or other small sour oranges
579 g water, divided (575 g + 4 g)
1350 g granulated sugar, divided (135 g + 1215 g)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (totally optional)
31 g powdered pectin (I used Ball flex-batch pectin)
200 g light corn syrup
4 g citric acid (also called sour salt)
Non-stick cooking spray
Granulated or turbinado sugar for rolling

Quarter the citrus and thinly slice, removing seeds as you go.  (Or check out Shea’s method of preparing citrus.)  Add the sliced citrus and 575 g of the water to the large pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer five minutes, remove from heat and let sit 8 hours or overnight.

Spray a little bit of the cooking spray on the bottom of the baking pan to keep the parchment in place.  Line it with parchment on the bottom and all sides.  I make diagonal cuts from the corners to make the parchment sheet fit in the pan better.  Lightly spray the parchment with cooking spray and set the pan aside.

After the fruit has sat and cooled, puree it with its liquid in batches in the blender or food processor.  Pour the puree through the mesh sieve into a container.  Rinse out the pan, set it on the scale and zero out the weight of the pan.  Measure 1350 g of the citrus puree into the pan.

Over medium heat, bring the puree up to 120°F on the candy thermometer.  Meanwhile, combine the 135 g of sugar with all of the pectin and stir to combine.  When the puree reaches 120°F, add the sugar/pectin mixture and stir well to dissolve.  Bring the mixture up to a boil.  (This may take some time.  Stir occasionally to keep from scorching on the bottom.)  When a full boil is achieved, boil for one minute then add the remaining sugar and the corn syrup.  Stir to dissolve the sugar. 

Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 223°F.  (Of note, this is the standard temperature for pâte de fruit but I only made it to about 215°F when I realized mine was already beginning to set.  Use your own judgment.)  Mix the citric acid with the 4 g of water to form a slurry.  When the puree reaches 223°F, pour in the citric acid slurry and cook for 30 seconds.

Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Allow the pâte de fruit to cool overnight.

The following day, remove the pâte de fruit from the pan.  Cut into cubes with a thin-bladed knife or cookie cutters sprayed with cooking spray.  Just before serving, coat with sugar and place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.


  1. Wow! I love the idea of a bit of cayenne pepper just lingering in the background. Did you prefer the ones rolled in granulated sugar or the ones rolled in the turbinado sugar?

  2. I'm a big fan of adding a little unexpected heat to things! Personally, I like the textural contrast of the turbinado sugar against the silkiness of the pate de fruit but I've had others say they thought it was distracting. But I also like the slightly milky flavor of the turbinado. It doesn't melt into the pate de fruit as quickly either.


What do you think?