I found the recipe for Plum Candy on Married With Dinner by way of Punk Domestics. I was intrigued so I read through the instructions and the story of how the candy came to be and thought that I could do this. I had plums in my fridge that were going bad and I still had some peaches (which I was loathing since I was still sick of peeling). I went through the plums and a lot of them had gone funky and the recipe called for 4 pounds of plums which is how some peaches got tagged in.
I thought that I was clear on the instructions, but since I just wrote down the ingredients and didn’t print off the full instructions, I buggered it up. It said to chop the fruit and then cook it with a bit of water, then push it through a sieve or food mill. I didn’t quite do that. One, I didn’t have time to chop everything nicely so I put it all in the food processor. Two, I put pureed fruit in the pot with 1 cup of sugar and let it sit for about 2 hours because I had to make dinner, give Timothy his bath and put him to bed. When I checked the instructions on the recipe after Tim went to bed I saw what I did wrong. There was nothing I could do at that point and I figured I hadn’t really made such a terrible mistake and it probably wasn’t ruined, so I carried on.
I added the zest and juice of half a lemon to the fruit I had blitzed in the food processor and I cooked it for 15 minutes in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot. The recipe said 20 minutes but I was impatient. I don’t have a food mill so a fine mesh sieve was only option to push the cooked fruit through. It worked just fine.
Another error/recipe deviation was that it said to add an equal volume of sugar to the plum puree after you sieve it, so I’m not totally sure how much sugar they used because I’m not sure how much puree they got after putting it through their food mill. I weighed 4 pounds (a little extra actually) of pitted peaches and plums and then cooked the fruit, got the sieved fruit mixture that already had one cup of sugar in it and then added 3 more cups of sugar.
I washed the pot I had cooked the fruit in before sieving it because there were little chunks left in the pot. I added the now smooth mixture of plums, peaches, sugar and lemon to the clean pot. I added three more cups of white sugar to the mixture (remember there was already one cup in there). The peels and pulpy bits were left in a bowl on my counter that I had a fantasy of making something with. It didn’t happen.
I turned the heat on to medium and it boiled, and boiled, and I sweated and sweated. As it started to really boil down I got out my cheap candy thermometer and looked up what ‘hard ball’ and ‘soft ball’ meant on my Blackberry while stirring molten sugar. I decided that I would bring my candy to just about 260 degrees F because I wanted chewy, firm candy that wasn’t oozy or tooth breaking. (Yeah – I was thinking of you Mom when I went for the pre-tooth breaking temperature).
As it boiled and it was getting closer to the 250 degree mark I started smelling burnt sugar and though ‘Oh shit. Now I’ve ruined it.’ Well, it wasn’t that bad, I just stopped stirring around the edges because that was the part that was getting a little dark.
I had prepared a very good cookie sheet (one with rolled sides that don’t warp when heated) with a piece of parchment paper. Next time I will rub a little vegetable oil on the paper since it was a bit of a pain in the ass to peel off.
When it got to the 262 degree F mark I poured it onto the parchment paper being very careful not to scrape any of the burnt bits into the pan. As soon as I finished pouring it onto the cookie sheet I realized that it did not make as much as I anticipated, so I got out my miniature good cookie sheet and very, very carefully lifted all the sides of the parchment and transferred it to the small cookie sheet. The small cookie sheet is the size that fits nicely in a toaster oven. The pan is about 8 inches by 4 inches and 1 inch high. You might think that I was absolutely stupid to think of moving molten sugar and you are probably right, but it worked and I wouldn’t try it again. I think that an 8 or 9 inch square cake pan lined with parchment would likely be the best option next time. Make sure the pan is on a heat proof surface like a wooden cutting board when you pour the candy in it.
I then left the candy alone for the night. I put a rectangular cake pan over top of it though because I didn’t want any bugs to land in the enticing sugar overnight. The next afternoon I took it out of the pan, carefully and painstakingly pulled off the parchment paper and sprinkled on some white sugar. That regular sugar just seemed to get absorbed into the candy so I changed my plan and used icing sugar to dust it so it wouldn’t stick together in one massive clump when I put it in the jar.
I have more plums in the fridge but I don’t think that I will have time to make this any time soon. I plan on weighing them, putting them in the food processor, adding some sugar and then freezing the whole lot of it to use another day.
I will make candy when my Georgie gets better. As I write this post, my beloved George is being operated on and we don’t know if he will make it. It has been an extremely difficult week with some major crying fits, not much eating and a very upset stomach for me. Poor Timothy has watched an awful lot of Thomas and Sesame Street this week. He has been the sweetest boy though – whenever I am crying, he crawls into my lap and gives me kisses. My Buffy has been pretty upset all week too and hides a lot. If all goes well today we could have him home in 3-5 days but the surgery is a major hurdle to get over.
Pureed fruit with sugar cooked to a hard ball stage. Adapted from the recipe found on Marriedwithdinner.com (http://marriedwithdinner.com/2008/07/28/eating-fruit-paste/)
20 minsPrep Time
40 minsCook Time
- 4 lbs pitted plums and peaches (your choice of ratio)
- 4 cups white granulated sugar
- juice and zest of half a lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/2 cup icing sugar for dusting finished candy
- Pit and puree all peaches and plums in a food processor. You will likely have to do it in stages since they won't all fit in one go.
- Pour puree into a large, heavy bottomed stainless steel pot with one cup of sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.
- Place a large fine mesh sieve over a bowl and ladle that fruit into the sieve. Using a wooden push or the ladle, push the fruit through, leaving the skins and thicker pulp behind in the sieve. Wash the pot if you are making the candy in it in the next stages.
- Pour the sieved mixture back into clean pot.
- Add the rest of the white granulated sugar and the vanilla.
- Cook over a medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or until the candy reaches the hard ball stage - 260 degrees F. This will give you firm but chewy candy that you can slice with a sharp knife.
- When the candy reaches the desired temperature, pour it into a pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure the pan is large enough to hold the candy and for the love of God, don't touch the hot candy.
- Leave the candy to cool for 12 hours.
- Peel off the parchment paper and cut it into desired size morsels. Roll the cut candy in icing sugar and put it in a sieve. Shake the candy in the sieve to remove the excess icing sugar.
- Store candy in an air tight jar. It will keep for quite a while, in theory. In practice it will be eaten quickly by friends and family.
As it was getting close to the hard ball mark, I had a bowl of ice water set up and I would put a drop of the hot candy in. I would let it sit for 30 seconds and then I would give it a squeeze. When it started to stay together in the water I knew I was getting close to where I wanted it. Do not make this when there are children around.
Simon Austin says