Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tomatillo Pates de Fruits

I wasted about two decades of my life feeling utmost indifference towards pates de fruits. You know them, the classic French candies that look just like orange slices or gummy worms, except that they are square shaped, coated in sugar crystals and infinitely more expensive.

Two decades of ignorance are not exactly my fault. When you are a broke high-school student backpacking your way through Europe with only a couple of bucks to spend on indulgencies, when presented with a magnificent display of choices in a window of a French Haute Patisserie, you do not exactly jump at something that looks like sophisticated reincarnation of a gummy bear. No, no, no, you are far more likely to be tempted by the pastel colored macaroons, or Ispahan, their sublime cousin at Pierre Hermé. Perhaps it is the gold encrusted Opera cake that will call your name, or the fruit tartelettes looking like miniature stained glass windows of Notre Dame. Whatever your choice might be, you are doomed in an Haute Patisserie shop, doomed to spend the last remaining dollar of your hard earned travel budget not even considering pates de fruits.

In all defense to the Haute Patisseries, these bastions of fine cuisine, I should have taken a cue from the price of the colorful haute jellies. I should have known, I should have been smart enough; I should have deduced that when something is the most expensive item in the store, it probably tastes the best. But I did not. I got tricked into the oblivion by the glamorous look of other creations and I finally tasted my first pates de fruits many years later on another trip to France, armed with my first decent paycheck and wisdom to pick pates de fruits over other items.

They were worth every single franc, euro, dollar and yen.
They do not call them “the jewels of concentrated fruit flavor” for nothing.
They blew my mind.

And so here it is, my little revenge on all the Haute Patisseries I've ever been to, and the ones I have not, for playing the style above substance trick on me. Here it is Dear Reader, a recipe for Tomatillo Pates de Fruits. Or should I say pates de legumes; one hell of pates de legumes.

Pardon my French.

Tomatillo Pates de Fruits

pates de fruits

* 1500 g (3 lb 5 oz) tomatillos
* 700 g (25 oz) sugar
* 155 g (5 1/2 oz) glucose syrup
* 20 g (6 tsp) apple pectin powder
* 2 tbsp lime juice
* 1/2 tsp kosher salt

to serve

* sugar (about 1 1/2 cups) for coating


* 8x8 inch baking pan
* fine mesh sieve

1. Brush the baking pan with oil, line the bottom and the sides with parchment paper and oil the paper.

2. Mix the pectin with 100 g (8 tbsp) of sugar.

3. Remove the husk from the tomatillos, wash them thoroughly and chop into pieces. Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor and process into smooth puree. Work the puree through a fine mesh sieve; it will yield bright green tomatillo juice. Discard the seeds and the pulp. Measure out 1000 g (35 oz) of the tomatillo juice. (If you have extra puree, save it for a different use.)

4. Place the tomatillo juice in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Once the juice is simmering, add the pectin-sugar mixture while whisking continuously. Once pectin is incorporated, add the remaining sugar in several batches. Continue to whisk until the liquid comes to a boil.

5. Once the liquid comes to a boil, add the salt and glucose. Continue to boil, while whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 230°F. (This will take a while, about 30 minutes, depending on the pan and the heat. If you are not using instant-read thermometer, test the candy by dipping the spoon into it and putting it aside for a couple of seconds.) Once candy reaches 230°F, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the lime juice.

6. Pour the hot jelly into the pan and let it cool at room temperature. Once the jelly has set, lift the edges of the parchment paper to transfer the candy onto a cutting board. Using sharp knife dipped in water, trim the edges and then cut the candy into 1 1/4 inch squares. Right before serving, toss the squares in sugar to coat them.


  1. Marvellous images, and I must correct my own mistake in overlooking these confections! Although, possibly not in durian flavour, given most people's reaction to everyday levels of durian flavour, I cannot imagine their reaction to concentrated durian goodness... :-)

    1. Judged by my own example, it is never too late for pates de fruits. And you should, go for durian -- absolutely!

  2. I love pate de fruit, but I had never tried it with tomatillos. Your photos are beautiful :)

  3. Tomatillos for pate de fruits??!!!! Brilliant!
    ami ||

    1. You know, I discovered that I like vegetable pate de fruits much better than the "original" ones. This recipe works with any vegetable you can extract juice from, and the flavors are amazing!


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