Sweet memories: cranberry fruit jellies (pate de fruits)

I’d like to wax nostalgic and sentimental in this post, but really? There just isn’t time. I learned to make the jellies pictured here from my dear old friend and mentor, Eugene Bernard. (You can read about him in the post I wrote last Christmas, and read the recipe for his to-die-for whiskey truffles. I won’t blame you if you make them instead. But I warn you; they are a bit of a project.) On the other hand, fruit jellies (pate de fruits) are easy peasy. They are so very French and so very beautiful, n’est-ce pas? You cannot be a die-hard perfectionist if you make them at home because, without commercial apple pectin, they need to be coddled a bit after they are made. No biggie. You can still make them ahead—oops, too late for that. Anyway, for future reference, they will last at least a month in the refrigerator in one large piece. You just need to serve them rather soon after you cut them and roll them in sugar. (See recipe for further ‘splainin’)

The choice of fruit—cranberries—is a bit unusual for fruit jellies. And the texture is a bit chunky, too. Most fruits are strained and smoothed before they are turned into jellies, and their appearance is more uniform and precisely cut. Listen up, all you overachievers who thrall to pressure, tension and anxiety at the very last minute: Bernard’s tweak on these jellies: dip them in chocolate. Now that is a bit of a project, too. Still….

If you are going to dip them, technically, the chocolate should be tempered so it will stay shiny and beautiful when it sets up. When chocolate (which you always buy in the tempered state) melts, the cocoa butter separates out and rises to the surface. It leaves streaks and makes the finish dull when it hardens. The remedy is to “temper” it by introducing some unmelted, tempered chocolate in small quantities. Those little bad-tempered molecules that have gone awry in the melting process sit up and realign like good little soldiers when they meet their tempered fellow molecules. Never mind. We don’t have time for that. Sprinkled with a little cocoa powder and fit into cute little candy papers, the jellies look fine. And boy, they are good. Take them to a friend or add a little happiness to your own holiday dessert table.

Cranberry Jellies
Makes 64

1 small lemon, sliced and seeds removed
12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
6 ounces (1 bottle or 2 pouches) Certo liquid pectin
2 1/2 cups sugar, and more for rolling
12 to 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (optional)

1. Cut two 8-by-13-inch rectangles of parchment paper to line an 8-inch square pan: place one rectangle in pan, crease at corners and edges, and place second rectangle in the opposite direction.

2. Purée lemon slices, cranberries and 1/4 cup water in food processor until smooth. If you like, leave mixture a little chunky.

3. Combine cranberry purée in medium sauce pan with sugar, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring often, for 4 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in pectin. Return to heat and bring to a boil again. Stir for 1 minute. Pour into pan and let cool until set. Cover and refrigerate in pan until ready to cut.

5. Using the parchment paper as handles, lift the square of jelly out in one piece and set it on a cutting board. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch squares and roll in sugar. If you want to finish them a few hours ahead of time, place cut squares on a rack to dry for about an hour before rolling in sugar. The sugar eventually melts and oozes a bit after a couple of hours when it comes in contact with the jellies, but rack drying them first delays that eventuality.

6. To dip some of the jellies in chocolate: Cut the big block in half. Cut one half of the block into squares for rolling in sugar and cut the other half into rectangles for dipping in chocolate. Melt about 12 ounces of chopped chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval to avoid burning, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until it is completely melted. (Or melt in a stainless steel bowl set over hot water. In that case, turn the oven on to the lowest setting so you can re-warm the chocolate as you dip.) See photos below for more details.

Just a few ingredients.

In a food processor.

Puree until not quite smooth.

Add sugar, cook, add pectin and cook again. Pour in pan. Let cool.

Cut and roll in sugar.


Chop chocolate in small pieces with serrated knife so it melts evenly.

Cut jellies in rectangles, pat dry with paper towels and dry on a rack for an hour or longer. Drop into melted chocolate and coat. Remove with fork. Tap fork against side of bowl to release excess and scrape bottom of fork along rim of bowl. Place on WELL OILED (IMPORTANT!) rack. Use non-stick spray or brush generously with mild-tasting oil. If you are a perfectionist or just love chocolate, chill until set and dip again.

These would look prettier with a second dip, since the jellies are a bit chunky. If chocolate cools while dipping, reheat in oven or microwave.

Cocoa covers all sins.


  1. I've never made my own pate de fruit. Didn't know it was so easy!

  2. Lovely photos! Pâte de fruits! God, you're reminding me of Hediard and lots of other good places to go in Paris this time of year. These look gorgeous--I'll have to give them a try. Ken

  3. This looks super yummy. And your photos are gorgeous!

  4. Marvelous post Sally! Great everything - story and photos. I love gelees. I remember working with them when I was apprenticing in a restaurant out of culinary school. The best ones I remember ever having were in France, in the village of Beaune. They were blackberry and cassis. The flavor just exploded in your mouth of deep, rich berry! I will have to try and replicate those. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  5. Sally, I have a recipe for those cassis jellies in Food For Friends!--e-mail me your address--I'll see if I have some copies and send you one :) or I can just send you recipe . Merry, Merry Christmas to you and Kent. XXOO

  6. This recipe is great, but I followed it to a tee, and it never set. So disappointed! Silver lining is that the resulting puree is absolutely delicious, and we'll be using it as a spread on sandwiches and in deserts. Anyone have any idea as to what I possibly did wrong. The taste is tart and tangy and sweet - exactly what I'm after. But I need to figure out how to get it to set properly.
    Any suggestions....? M

    1. I'm so sorry you had a problem with these. They can turn out slightly soft, but they definitely set up. I am wondering what kind of pectin you used? Also, the amount of sugar could have been a factor. Pectin needs sugar to set, which is why when you use it to make jam, there is a higher ratio of sugar to fruit than in jams made without commercial pectin. I probably pushed the sugar level down to its bare minimum in the recipe, since I don't like things overly sweet. BUT the recipe has worked each time I tested it. That 1/2 cup less might have made the difference. Also, did you use 2 pouches of liquid pectin?

      You might try to salvage them by reheating the mixture, adding a cup (?) more sugar and 1/2 pouch liquid pectin.

      A remake recipe for jelly is on the sure jell website, and that might help too

      Let me know if you try again and what happened. If you start from scratch, you could even bump the sugar up to 3 cups--that should definitely do the trick, though I've had success with 2 1/2 cups. Happy holidays, and thanks for writing in!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. The person who had the problem (above) sent me an e-mail to say that she tried the recipe again EXACTLY as written and it worked! I am guessing that the amount of sugar was the problem.

  7. Hi Sally!
    Can dry Pectin be used for these?
    What quantity would work best and thought I could mix the dry pectin with the sugar and then add to the puree.

    Love your blog!!!

    1. Betty, for some reason I just got your comment--not sure what is going on, so sorry for responding so late. I think for the most consistent and smooth results you should stick to the liquid pectin. I think I tried the dry pectin at one point, but don't remember the details of the results, just that it netted out to using the liquid pectin for the best results. Sorry, not really the answer you wanted, but there it is. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. "Never mind. We don't have time for that." Ha! I think I love you. ;)

  9. I'm going to try this with frozen cranberries, as we can't get fresh ones where I live. Do you have any tips that may help?

    1. Jo, Yes you can use frozen cranberries. Defrost them a bit first--they don't have to be room temperature, but just warm enough to be able to chop--they will be cooked later. Be sure to use the full amount of sugar in the recipe. Pectin needs sugar to set!

      Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for stopping by.

  10. sally, this looks like a great recipe, i am going to try it this weekend. and i would LOVE to try your recipe for the (blackberry) cassis jellies/pate. any chance you would be willing to send me this recipe? i did find some recipes online but am not sure what to use for "glucose" or "cassis puree". any help would be appreciated!

    1. Norma,
      There has been amazing interest in this recipe! I wonder how you found it??

      To make the cassis jellies, follow the basic recipe instructions above for cranberry jellies. Line the pan, cool and cut as above. For the ingredients:

      2 cups sugar
      1 cup creme de cassis
      3/4 cup black currant syrup
      1/2 cup red wine
      1 tablespoon lemon juice
      6 ounces (2 pouches, or 1 bottle) liquid Certo pectin

      In a saucepan, combine the sugar, creme de cassis, black currant syrup, wine and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook at a boil for 3 minutes, stirring often.

      Remove the pan from the heat and add the Certo. Mix thoroughly. Return the pan to the heat and boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour into parchment lined pan and cool until set (see above.) Proceed as for cranberry jellies.

      Happy holidays!

  11. Hi Sally,

    I only have some organic black current juice. Can this be used to replace the syrup? where in Canada can I find the syrup if that must be used? If juices can be used we will have a jewel box of colors and flavours to make this Christmas.

    thanks for some great Christmas gift ideas here. love it!!

    1. I think it would be best to search out black currant syrup at a store--either a health food store (call around) or a specialty food shop that sells European products. Ribena is one brand. (I have seen it on Amazon) It is a concentrated syrup with the consistency of maple syrup--used to mix with bubbly water or as an ingredient in drinks...you might find it in a liquor store, for that matter. If you do use currant juice, you could add sugar to it and cook it down a bit, but I don't know the proportions offhand, and couldn't guarantee it would work without testing it myself, but it is worth a try. Depending on the juice, you could try using a one to one juice to sugar proportion....If you don't mind the suspense (or expense), you could just give it a try and see if sets up, being mindful that pectin needs a certain amount of sugar to set up....Hope that helps. Let me know if you do try it!.