This may be a controversial statement, but I’m not the biggest fan of melon. So when I was gifted a melon by a friend recently, rather than reject or re-gift it, I took on the challenge to find something fun to make with it. Pâte de fruit is an underrated confection, rarely seen outside of high-end confectioneries and restaurant petits fours plates, and I thought it would lend itself nicely to this ripe fruit. Many recipes call for invert sugars, citric acid and/or specialty pectins, but I came across one written entirely in French on a blog called Saveurs et Gourmandises that piqued my interest. It was the only recipe I have ever seen that had butter as an ingredient, and that was reason enough for me to try it. The melon I received was a small orange-fleshed varietal of muskmelon, similar to a small cantaloupe. The resulting confection had a rich and caramelized flavor reminiscent of apricot jam. I translated the recipe into English but also updated measurements, temperatures and timing guidelines.
A few notes: First, don’t get frustrated if your thermometer gets stuck on a temperature between 200 and 225ºF for a while. Almost all recipes for pâte de fruit make this note. Be patient, remember to stir and don’t walk away or give up. Eventually that temperature will move and sometimes quite rapidly, so keep your eye on it. Second, this recipe used all of the melon flesh of my small melon, but if using a standard sized cantaloupe, you will probably need ½ to ¾ of one. Lastly, the original recipe called for a French brand of pectin not commonly available here, but I used powered original Sure-Jell and it worked well.
Makes about 60 pieces
- 2 ¼ cups (250 grams) pureed muskmelon
- 2 tablespoons (14 grams) pectin
- 1 ¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons (21 grams) unsalted butter
Make the Pâte de Fruit:
- Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place the melon puree in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the pectin and ¼ cup of sugar to the melon. Stir to combine and insert a candy thermometer onto the side of the pot.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, stir in another ½ cup of sugar and return to a boil.
- Add the butter, a little piece at a time, letting it melt before adding another piece. Then slowly stream another ¾ cup of sugar into the mixture and return to a boil.
- Let the mixture cook until the thermometer registers 223 – 225˚F, stirring frequently so the mixture does not scorch. This could take 15-30 minutes in total. Promptly remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan and let cool to room temperature.
- Remove the mixture from the pan and discard the parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut into small, bite-sized squares.
- Place the remaining ¼ cup of sugar on a plate and roll the pieces a few at a time to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week.