Beet pâte de fruit

After making the beet fluid gel for my take on red velvet cake, I found myself with quite a bit of beet juice left over. Fortunately, I had a recipe handy to help me use it up: beet pâte de fruit. Or should that be “pâte de légume”?

It may sound strange, but beet pâte de fruit is not that uncommon: it has a long history at the Fat Duck, and can be found in the Noma cookbook as well. Beet is such a sweet vegetable to begin with that adding a bit more sugar and making it into candy isn’t much of a stretch. (For me, anyway. My husband’s stated position is, “We are not poor. We do not need to eat vegetables for dessert.” Needless to say, I don’t get pumpkin pie that often, either.)

The recipe I chose to use, though, was from the recently published cookbook for the “Paris 1906” menu at Chicago’s Next Restauarant. The book, published exclusively in electronic form, is beautiful – even on my minuscule iPhone screen, which admittedly made it somewhat difficult to cook from.

It’s a straight-up pâte de fruit recipe, using beet juice, sugar, a little citric acid and pectin. I had read in the Fat Duck Cookbook that beet, combined with enough acid, will begin to taste like blackcurrant, and there’s enough citric acid in this recipe that it flirts with that effect; I noticed it especially while it was cooking. But the flavour is decidedly beet, and decidedly delicious.

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