It’s that time of year again…
For The Astronomer and my first wedding anniversary, I made two varieties of Vietnamese spring rolls, goi cuon and bo bia, to represent paper. In recognition of our second anniversary, I prepared a feast of cottontail as a nod to cotton. Continuing my streak of edible anniversary gifts, The Astronomer received fruit leather for our latest to signify leather. Next year’s gonna be decidedly less creative with “fruit and flowers” on the docket!
While my initial plan was to make fruit leather using The Astronomer’s two most beloved ingredients, raspberries and cinnamon, the prohibitive price and undependable quality of summer berries in early spring had me searching for a more fitting fruit. After scanning the produce aisle and my long mental list of The Astronomer’s loves and loathes, I happily settled on pear fruit leather spiked with warm cardamom.
Using recipes from Elise and Kirbie as my guide, I successfully transformed fresh pears into candied leather without too much trouble. The only hurdle that I encountered was my oven, which heats intensely and unevenly. This meant that I had to check on the leather rather often to make sure that it hadn’t turned the fruit into chips or, worse yet, burnt it to a crisp!
I tried my darnedest to keep this gift a secret, but knowing my penchant for edible interpretations of antiquated anniversary traditions, The Astronomer figured it out before the big reveal. Oh, well. It didn’t hinder his enjoyment one bit.
Happy Anniversary, Vernon Chaplin!
- 4 cups chopped pears
- 1/2 cup water
- Fresh lemon juice
- Granulated sugar
- Ground cardamom
Rinse, peel, core, and chop pears into bite-sized pieces. Taste the fruit and note how sweet it is. If the pears are very sweet, you will not need to add any sugar. If the pears are a touch tart, you may need to add some sugar in the next step.
Place fruit in a large saucepan. Add water and bring to a simmer; cover and let cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Uncover and stir. Use a potato masher to mash up the fruit in the pan.
Taste the fruit and determine how much sugar, lemon juice, and cardamom to add. Add sugar in small amounts, one tablespoon at a time, to the desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time, to help brighten the flavor of the fruit. Add a pinch or two of cardamom for pizzazz. Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5-10 minutes (or more).
Put the purée in a blender and blend until very smooth. Taste again and adjust sugar, lemon juice, and cardamom, if necessary.
Heat the oven to 140°F or the lowest temperature available. Line a 13×18 baking sheet with a silicon baking mat. Pour the purée onto the mat and spread evenly to about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let “bake” for as long as it takes for the purée to dry out and form fruit leather, about 8-12 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is no longer sticky, but has a smooth surface.
When the fruit leather is ready, you can easily peel it up from the silicon mat. To store, roll it in plastic wrap or parchment paper, put in an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
The first look.
Gifts that keep on giving on Gastronomy…