Have you ever made homemade gumdrops? They're absolutely AMAZING when you make them with real fruit. Call them gumdrops, call them jelly candies, call them pate de fruits--call them whatever you want, they're absolutely delicious.
And this recipe for peach jelly candies won the Tasting Challenge when I was on the Food Network's Holiday Gingerbread Showdown! Did you watch?
Adam Young, winner of Best Baker in America said that the texture was perfection. Kerry Vincent said that the flavor was impeccable.
Kerry Vincent! My candies! Stamp of Approval! AAAAAAAAAAAAH
Actual footage of me winning!
Molly Yeh, the third judge, also said very lovely things about my peach jelly candies, but they had to edit out a lot to fit the whole show into one hour. To all of the judges, I loved your ideas for improving and adapting the recipe. You truly are experts with wonderful, constructive criticism, and I am SO honored that you liked my candies.
Ingredients for Peach Jelly Candies (Fruit Gelée, or Pate de Fruit):
- 1 pound fruit puree (if you want to add liqueur, substitute 1oz of the fruit for 1oz of the liqueur)
- 1/2 ounce pectin
- 4 ounces sugar
- 8 ounces sugar (yes, sugar again. It's divided for a reason.)
- 3 ounces clear Karo syrup (or glucose)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid citric acid
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
How to Turn Powdered Citric Acid into Liquid Citric Acid for Cooking:
- Need liquid citric acid but can only find powdered? Make your own liquid citric acid mixture by combining 1/4 teaspoon of powdered citric acid with 1 Tablespoon of water and stir to dissolve.
- You can also use lemon juice in place of liquid citric acid. This will impart a lemon flavor to your candy, though.
While you can purchase fruit purees, and often they are quite good, nothing beats fresh fruit, picked at its prime, like the peaches I used in my Food Network challenge. These were seriously GOOD peaches.
How to Peel Peaches:
To easily peel the skins from peaches, boil water, then immerse the fruit in the boiling water for about one minute. Place the peaches in a bath of ice water immediately after retrieving from the boiling water. The skins will peel right off of the blanched peaches. It's like magic.
Puree the peaches using a blender or food processor. If you're in the market for a blender, the Blendtec blender I bought is AMAZING. Nobody is paying me to say this: I am just completely blown away by what this blender can do! I ran my blended peaches through a fine-mesh strainer, but I didn't have to, because the Blendtec blender had made everything so incredibly smooth I didn't have anything to strain out.
Look at that peach puree! Soft as a peach-flavored-baby's-bottom.
Tips for Using Other Fruits to Make Homemade Gumdrops or Pate de Fruits:
- Not all fruits are the same! I tried making a cranberry jelly candy, and failed twice. Something about the acidity, pectin, or perhaps some other natural chemical element in the cranberries threw off the chemistry and it didn't set properly. Prickly pear failed similarly. I'll keep trying different variations and report back. I know this works with peaches at least!
- My pastry chef/microbiologist mother notes that if you're using passionfruit puree, only cook the mixture to 220 degrees, not 225.
Line an 8x8 square pan with cling wrap.
Combine the first quantity of sugar (4oz) and pectin.
Bring fruit puree to a boil. Add first quantity sugar/pectin mixture, whisking it in gradually, and mix until well combined.
Add the second quantity of sugar and corn syrup/glucose and cook the mixture until it reads 225 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove the mixture from heat. Add the citric acid and vanilla bean paste. (The citric acid activates the pectin to thicken things up). Pour into the prepared pan to set.
Let the candy set for 90 minutes at room temperature. You can also hurry it up (as I did) by putting it in the fridge or freezer.
Turn out on a sugared surface. The sugar will cling to the surface of the Peach Jelly Candies.
I used some basic cookie cutter shapes to cut out these peach jelly candies.
I used some of the smaller ones as the cobblestones on my Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house.
And some of them I just ate. Because they were delicous.
Want to get fancy and package these peach jelly candies up for gift-giving in the future? We can totally do that.
I made these Peach gift tags out of two circles of carcstock and a bit of ribbon. Easy peasy.
Two circles of peach cardstock, layered over each-other, gives the look of a peach to the gift tag.
My favorite way to package these fruit jellies up as gifts is in a simple wrapper of waxed paper. Just to be sure to keep everything from sticking together, it's helpful to put a circle of waxed paper between the candies. The candies probably wouldn't stick together here in dry Phoenix, but if you live in a more humid place, this is a good precautionary measure.
You won't know what you're missing util you try these fresh peach jelly candies!
UPDATE: Making Apple Cranberry Jelly Candies:
I consulted my friend Tracy DeWitt, co-winner of the National Pastry Championships (along with her husband, David Smoake), about my failed cranberry jelly candies. I had tried upping the pectin, and upping the citric acid previously, to no avail. Tracy suggested cooking the mixture to a higher temperature. I cooked it to 230 degrees, and also used about 2/3 cranberries, 1/3 apples this time. I cooked the mixture to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, and the mixture did solidify enough to cut into shapes and make candies this time. It's still not as chewy and firm as the peach version and what I'd like it to be, but it still is darn delicious!
And just look at that glorious, all natural, red color! I can't wait to decorate a gingerbread house and use these beauties as the stepping stones.