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Is Pate De Fruit Boring? Just Ask Chef Michael Laiskonis

Chef Michael Laiskonis, whose plated dessert video classes will be available to the public starting November 10 at PastryU.com has recently taken an in depth look at pate de fruits on his web page Opusculum. He has been geneerous enough to share some of those insight with Pastry University. He Starts his post his personal blog page by stating that “Pate de fruit is boring”. He qualifies that by saying that the confection, often used as a petit four or mignardise, is often left as is by chefs who like it for its long shelf life and ease to make in large batches. “There is a reason why an assortment of petits fours usually represents a round-up of the usual suspects (along with marshmallows, caramels, macarons, etc.). Rarely can one devote unlimited resources (time, space, money) to upgrade these tiny bites to the next level of complexity and deliciousness. That’s why – at least for pastry cooks – they tend to get boring, even with the occasional variation.” says Chef Laiskonis. Then Chef tends to do what drives him,  he gets deep into what makes the recipe work in order to understand how to best make changes. In his look at the chemistry of Pate de fruit he discusses in detail the many varieties of pectin, their strengths and how quickly or slowly they set. Chef Michael Laiskonis thens discusses the role of sugar (sucrose) in pate de fruits and what its role is along with the possibility for making changes and substitutions in the amount and type of sugar used. Chef says ”Part of what makes pâte de fruit boring is that because of the need for high solids content (sugar), most of the potential flavor is obscured by sweetness. To this end, I’ve been playing around with sugar alcohols and even low DE maltodextrin (here, meaning ‘dextrose equivalence’) to reduce sweetness. With the end goal of perhaps approaching what one might even call a ‘savory’ pâte de fruit.”  Chef Laiskonis also discusses how acids are used to control the ph in the recipe to help the pectin set the jellies. Noting that he “does not personally feel that one can taste any difference when one acid is used in place of another.” Chef also discusses the cooking process, temperatures and his experiments with cooking pate de fruits using the vacuum process. This is a great read and can be found in full at Opusculum. Be sure to check out Chef Laiskonis’ video classes at Pastry University.
Chef Laiskonis
Chef Laiskonis filming a video class at Pastry U
A few helpful hints from Chef Laiskonis related to the Pate de fruit process.
  • from my observation the most common cause of improperly set pâte de fruit is the sudden drop in temperature that occurs when the sugars are added too quickly.
  • I like to blend 1-2% of an acid into the sucrose used for dusting, or a dry spice, or any dried and powdered flavoring
  • When possible I use a ‘yellow’ or ‘ruban jaune’ pectin for pâte de fruit, designed to offer a fairly slow set with a solids content greater than 75% and within a range of 3.2-3.5 pH.
  • Pectin is prone to clumping upon contact with liquid, so it’s vital to dry blend the pectin with some of the sugar used – typically about 5 times the weight of the pectin .
Below is a general reference chart for sweetener composition and properties from chef’s Opusculum page.

Sweeteners chart

Download his Grapefruit-Campari Pâte de Fruit – Opusculum

 

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