I’ve been groaning to myself about the state of the food blogosphere circa Valentine’s Day, but then I realized, I’m doing the same thing. I made truffles, as I have every Valentine’s Day since my freshman year in college. I can’t help the fact that they’re the perfect potluck base: I make the centers – a simple ganache (cream + chocolate, melted together, some add butter), this year I took Cooking For Engineers’ advice and used a 2:1 chocolate:cream ratio by weight – and everyone brings a topping.
But I also made something else that is not what you usually see on Valentine’s Day (or ever), although I must admit it is clearly V-Day themed.
I have a thing about pâtes de fruit, which will become clear when I finally get around to posting about my cranberry ones. This time, I made them with red wine. I used Juanita’s Allrecipes recipe for wine jelly as a starting point, but it’s a pretty loose interpretation. Here’s what I did:
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1 packet low-sugar pectin (ie, pectin that can be used with low- or no-sugar recipes; not because I’m anti-sugar, but because this pectin can tolerate a wider variety of sugar concentrations, making it harder to screw up)
- about 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 an ice cube of lemon juice – about 1 Tbsp
- Make a pectin slurry: I mixed the pectin with some of the wine so the pectin wouldn’t clump when I added it later. If you’re using liquid pectin, don’t worry about that.
- Boil the heck out of everything: I boiled the wine, sugar, and lemon juice, and then added the pectin and kept boiling until 1) a little put on a plate in the freezer solidified to my liking – when I pushed on it, it broke into two pieces on either side of my finger instead of letting me make a finger-shaped hole; 2) the bubbles were small and close together; 3) it was just shy of 220°F – it seemed like it would never get quite there! The longer you boil, the firmer they will set, unless you go way too long and the pectin breaks down, in which case they won’t set at all (although your syrup will be pretty thick by then anyway). I would love to tell you the temperature at which this happens but I have been unable to find it myself. If anyone knows, please comment!
- Pan and chill: I took it off the heat and poured it into a greased mini-madeleine mold and a greased mini-muffin pan, then refrigerated. They came out of the molds just fine. So don’t think your baking pans are unitaskers!
The verdict: They were quite good, but a little too tart. I would either increase the sugar, at least for this particular wine (did somebody say Riesling candy? I’ll get right on that), or drop the lemon juice. I have a sneaking suspicion that since all the pectin I buy has citric acid in the ingredients, we may not really need to add acidic ingredients anymore. Perhaps lemon juice and such are just still in all the recipes from before someone got the bright idea to add it to the pectin. Does anyone know for sure? I’ll have to test it sometime. Anyway, wine is already acidic so maybe it’s sufficient on its own. My recommendation is to make this with a fruity wine and no lemon juice – I still like to err on the side of too little sugar because, even as someone with a huge sweet tooth, too much sugar can take some of the complexity out of the flavor. And these are supposed to be sophisticated candies, after all!