I may have mentioned these three facts about my mom before: She studied pastry-making at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she is a devoted sugar addict and Paris is her favorite place on Earth.

These three things came together in a perfect storm about a year ago when she and I went hunting on the streets of Paris for one of her most favorite treats: pâté de fruits.

Valentine’s Day 2021

The English translation is “fruit paste,” which doesn’t quite do justice to the amazingly flavorful burst of intense fruit you experience when tasting these beauties. Traditionally, they were made with orchard fruits such as quinces, apples, apricots or plums and were referred to as “dry jam.”

I’m using strawberries for their vibrant red color, which will make them the perfect gift for those you love on Valentine’s Day! Making these marvelous treats is not hard, but it does require some attention! Be prepared for a lot of stirring and some hot liquid that you will need to be careful around, and have patience. I promise you it will be worth the effort!

Pâté de Fruits

Equipment:
8-inch-by-8-inch pan
Aluminum foil or parchment paper
Blender
Fine mesh strainer
Medium-size saucepan
Candy thermometer
Spatula

Ingredients:
1 pound strawberries (fresh or defrosted)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups sugar
2 ½ tablespoons, or one packet, liquid pectin (2 tablespoons of powdered pectin is equivalent to one packet of liquid pectin)

Directions:

  1. Take your pan and line the bottom with foil or parchment paper. Spray the entire pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place your strawberries in a blender and blend until they’re well puréed.
  3. Pour your strawberries through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan, allowing only finely puréed fruit into the pan.
  4. Pour in your lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar. Place the pan on your stove, turn the heat to medium-high and insert your candy thermometer.
  5. Gently cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a temperature of 140 degrees.
  6. When the temp is reached, add in the rest of the sugar and your liquid pectin.
  7. Lower the heat on the stove to medium and gently cook, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 200 degrees. Turn down the heat to low and allow the mixture to cook for another two to three minutes.
  8. Then, turn up the heat again to medium and allow the mixture to reach 225 degrees. Remember: This is where the magic is happening; all the flavor is concentrating and it will take a bit of time. Stir, stir, stir!!!
  9. Turn the heat to low when the mixture hits 225 and cook for an additional two to three minutes. Quietly celebrate that you are almost there!
  10. Pour out the fruit mixture onto your prepared pan and smooth with a spatula so that it is all one even layer.
  11. This will need to “set” for a few hours until it is room temperature to the touch and firm.
  12. Using a sharp knife, cut the fruit into small squares and then roll each piece in a bowl of sugar until it is completely covered. Serve the pate de fruits to your valentine like the French do, on a cheese board, or pop one directly into their mouths! They can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!