This past weekend, a group of 20+ of us gathered for a potluck at the lovely home of Lynda of TasteFood to celebrate the release of a cookbook featuring a number of us with our winning recipes. We’ve all competed against each other in recipe development contests on Food52 over the last 2 years, and have slowly evolved into a very real community. We’ve celebrated each other’s wins and culinary breakthroughs (like baking a first loaf of bread) and provided support to those who have lost. We’ve poured over cookbooks for ideas, and experimented with new ingredients in our kitchens to bring our best game to a competition; but we’ve also sent private emails through the site to each other encouraging each other to post something in a contest.
Here’s the amazing thing to me: Regardless of differences in age, culture, religion, skin color, sex, whether we’re single and 22 or a grandmother of 5 at 60, our comments on each other’s recipes have evolved from “Yum!” and “Must try soon!” to a more personal interaction. We’ve engaged with each other over new marriages, babies born, jobs lost and found, and loved ones who have died. A common love for cooking great food has provided fertile soil for real conversations to begin, and potential close friendships to take root and grow.
As I looked around the room over a beautiful harvest table completely covered with the amazing food we all brought to share, I listened to the happy chatter of friends meeting face-to-face for the first time, and thought of the first Thanksgiving of different groups of people meeting over a table of food. In that moment I gave thanks that in an increasingly technology driven society of people glued to their computer screens and iphones, and spending hours on email, blogs and social networking sites, that all this technology can also lead to real interaction and meaningful friendship between people who ordinarily would never have met without it.
In this spirit, I thought I’d share with you the recipe for the dish I shared with the group yesterday. This is a great little confection for the holidays that’s so easy to make! You will need a candy thermometer to make this.
Pear – Rosemary Pâte de Fruit
- You will need a candy thermometer to make this, ideally one that has a probe connected to a metal cord that leads to the read out. Barring that, make sure the candy thermometer is well affixed to the side of the pot, to prevent splattering of the sugar onto your hands.
- Prepare the pan / mold and the slurry before beginning to heat up the pâte de fruit.
- I prefer liquid pectin due to the ease of using it, but powdered pectin will work fine. If using the powdered form use 1 packet. For a slightly less gel that allows the pâte de fruit to melt in your mouth, cut the pectin amount back by 1/3, and allow it to set up overnight.
- Use 100% pear juice with only ascorbic acid added for color
- Pâte de fruit has done well in my refrigerator for weeks!
Makes one slab, 6-1/2″ X 6-1/2″ X 1/2″ thick (once trimmed)
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 3/4 teaspoons water
- 2 cups 100% pear juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 very large sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 4 ounces liquid pectin
- Line an 8″ X 8″ glass baking pan with 2 layers of foil. Tuck the foil thoroughly into the corners of the pan. Do not think you can do this later while the pâte de fruit cooks!
- In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar with the water to make a slurry. Set aside.
- Pour the pear juice into a medium pot, add the rosemary sprig and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes to infuse the pear juice with the rosemary. Strain the rosemary out and return the juice to the pot.
- Add the lemon juice, sugar and light corn syrup, and insert a candy thermometer probe into the liquid. Turn the heat to medium high, keeping a close eye on the temperature. Bring to a boil and add the pectin all at once. Your next goal is to get the liquid to 220 F, which will happen fairly quickly (a few minutes at most). NOTE: Be very careful with any splattering, as there are few things you’ll ever cook on the stove hotter than making candy. Consider wearing gloves or wrapping a towel around your hand when checking or repositioning the probe.
- When the liquid hits 220° F, maintain that temperature for 2 – 3 minutes by adjusting the heat if necessary. Increase the heat so that the liquid slowly climbs to 223° F. This may take a little longer than you might expect, so keep increasing the heat by small increments as needed. Once the liquid reaches 223° F, continue to boil for an additional 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and add the slurry. Whisk to dissolve as quickly as possible and IMMEDIATELY pour into your prepared dish. Let sit for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight, to completely set up.
- Using the foil, lift the pâte de fruit out of the pan and flip it over. Carefully peel the foil from the bottom and trim the sides. Slice into cubes or cut out shapes with a sharp cookie cutter.
- Cut some cheddar cheese. Pull out some of your favorite crackers. Stack and devour.