Reduced-sugar blood orange pâte de fruit

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blood orange pâte de fruit | Janice Lawandi @ kitchen heals soul
Most of us don’t make candy confections very often. So far, I’ve made popcorn brittle, vanilla marshmallows, and maple fudge. With most of these recipes, the ratio of ingredients is key. However, let’s face it, I may have a PhD in Chemistry, but I am still the queen of math errors. In grad school, I was often “off” by a factor of 10, meaning my decimal point got placed at the wrong spot. Brilliant. I cannot stress how colossally annoying it is to make careless math errors only to realize it at the end of an experiment. And of course, last week, I made a doozy in my first batch of blood orange pâte de fruit that I carried through 3 subsequent batches until I realized what I had done. It took me 4 batches of pâte de fruit, and much swearing, until it dawned on me that the amount of sugar I had calculated was half what it should be.
Reminds me of that famous latin quote “Errare humanum est”—to err is human. (Yes, I took latin for 5 years in school and that’s pretty much all I remember).
blood orange pâte de fruit | Janice Lawandi @ kitchen heals soul
 Since I put so much effort into my study in accidentally-reduced-sugar pâte de fruit, I figured I might as well share it with you. Obviously, my first batch did not set. At the time, I blamed the fact that my instructions said to “boil for 5 minutes” and I blamed the lack of set on my low final cooking temperature of 216ºF. I took this “failure” as an opportunity to do some experimenting and optimizing. I went through bags and bags of blood oranges, as I tested two different cooking temperatures and if adding an acid to the recipe impacted the set (in case the juice of the blood oranges wasn’t enough). At the end of 4 batches, I had a pretty decent recipe for pâte de fruit, though it was a bit firmer/more pectin-y than I would have liked, and also it took almost 2 days to set (and not the 3 hours that many recipes claimed).
juicing blood oranges | Janice Lawandi @ kitchen heals soul
I suppose a clumsy math error led me to develop a way of reducing the sugar in pâte de fruit, didn’t it? The sugar is pivotal to getting the jelly to set, but the other important factors are temperature and pH. However in this case, increasing the cooking temperature (from 216ºF to 220ºF) was not enough, and adding a little lemon juice to the recipe didn’t help either. So far, the best way I found to achieve a set reduced-sugar pâte de fruit was to cook it to 224ºF before adding the pectin.
To measure the temperature while making candy, use a probe thermometer with a longer cable like the Thermoworks Dot, so that you can leave the probe in the pot and keep your hands away from the hot sugar!
blood orange pâte de fruit recipe | Janice Lawandi @ kitchen heals soul
This pâte de fruit is more intensely orange and less sweet than the usual pâtisserie kind. And, I cannot stress how important it is to note that this pâte de fruit with half the sugar recipe takes significantly longer to set than traditional full-sugar pâte de fruit, which can set within hours of making it. This recipe took a couple of days to set all the way through. It took so long I thought it was a failure after it sat out overnight and remained soft. The only reason I realized it actually worked was because I was so angry at my supposed failed recipe attempts that I had rejected the batches to my dining table for two days because I just didn’t want to deal with them. This post is also proof that failures and mistakes are an opportunity to learn (even if your first instinct is to throw everything in the garbage).

As with the grapefruit pâte de fruit, it is best to not store these for prolonged periods because some water can separate out, unless you store them with a desiccant of some kind (as suggested by Pastry Chef Online). And if you want more reduced-sugar inspiration, check out this review of Baking with less sugar by Joanne Change, a baking book dedicated to the different ways of using less sugar in baking recipes.



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5 from 2 votes

Reduced-sugar blood orange pâte de fruit

This pâte de fruit is more intensely orange and less sweet than the usual pâtisserie kind. It's made with half the sugar so it takes significantly longer to set than traditional pâte de fruit recipes.
Course Confection
Cuisine French
Keyword Blood orange pâte de fruit, Reduced sugar pâte de fruit
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 64
Calories 12kcal
Author Janice


8x8 pan
Food processor


  • 1 whole blood orange ~160 grams, washed
  • 166 grams freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 150 grams granulated sugar 3/4 cup
  • 7 grams unsalted butter 1/2 tbsp
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin I used Certo brand
  • granulated sugar to coat the squares of pâte de fruit


  • Grease and line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment, making sure that the parchment runs up the sides. I like to use metal 8x8-inch square pans like this one on Amazon. Open the liquid pectin packet and stand it up in a mug or a glass by the stove for later.
  • Bring a medium pot of water to boil, and boil the whole orange for about 10 minutes to soften the peel. Let cool slightly, then cut the boiled orange in half. You will only need one half for a batch of pâte de fruit—I suggest you make a quick jam with the other half.
  • Cut the boiled blood orange half in large chunks, removing any pits along the way. Place the grapefruit in a food processor and blend for at least a full minute to completely purée the fruit and to chop all the fibers/skin. You may need to add a little of the fruit juice to the processor to really finely grind the fruit.
  • Transfer the fruit purée to a large pot, along with the juice, and granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil on high, stirring constantly. Monitor the temperature with a digital candy thermometer (like this probe thermometer from Taylor on Amazon).
  • When the mixture hits 118ºF (48ºC), add the butter, and continue to stir and cook the mixture until it hits 223—224ºF (106ºC).
  • When you reach the final cooking temperature, immediately take the pot off the stove and dump in the liquid pectin. Stir well to make sure it gets evenly mixed in, then transfer the hot mixture to the prepared pan.
  • Let the pâte de fruit set overnight, uncovered, until it is completely set throughout. Unmold the pâte de fruit, and cut it into 1-inch squares with a large, oiled kitchen knife and, just before serving, toss the cubes in granulated sugar to coat them. Store the uncoated pâte de fruit between parchment sheets.
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenhealssoul or tag #kitchenhealssoul!


Calories: 12kcal

blood orange, candy, citrus

9 Responses to Reduced-sugar blood orange pâte de fruit

  1. Julie March 3, 2014 at 7:22 PM #

    I’m a new reader, and I am loving your site lately! I have a B.S. in food science & engineering, and these posts take me back to my food sci courses!

  2. Stephanie March 13, 2014 at 3:49 AM #

    yay for accidental discovery!

    And I also ignore baking failures. Ugly cookies, sunken cakes, etc sit sadly on my workstation until I force myself to toss them out.

  3. Jen February 9, 2015 at 12:47 AM #

    My goodness. I tried making blood orange pate de fruit today with presumably the same recipe you used at first, one that called for just boiling for five minutes. No thermapen, no nothing. It was still the texture of maple syrup after several hours. I reboiled it not once, not twice, but three times desperately trying to get it to set. Thanks for this post–I’m marching to the store tomorrow to buy myself a candy thermometer and making your recipe. Love your blog by the way!

  4. Sarah | Well and Full June 14, 2015 at 10:32 AM #

    I LOVE how you’re combining your degree in chemistry with your love of cooking!! My degree was in Business, but I’m a secret science nerd 😉 Love your blog!!

  5. Jordan September 5, 2015 at 11:25 PM #

    I love your website and recipes! is there a reason you left out the honey in this recipe?

    • Janice December 19, 2015 at 10:47 AM #

      Thanks, Jordan! I honestly added honey to the grapefruit pâte de fruit because I love the combination of flavours. Honey would definitely work here too!

  6. marygreene August 22, 2019 at 4:08 PM #

    Thanks for posting this. Very helpful. I’ve been looking for a reduced-sugar version and will give this a try.

    I have a feeling that at some point you may have done a copy/paste from the grapefruit recipe to the blood orange recipe as your instructions here say to ‘place the grapefruit in a food processor’ unless that was an intentional error just to see if we were paying attention.


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  2. Baking with Less Sugar | Kitchen Heals SoulKitchen Heals Soul - June 4, 2020

    […] limited. There was that time where I accidentally cut the sugar when working on this recipe for reduced blood orange pâte de fruits. That was a math error that had me tweaking a recipe for days to make it work! Cutting back or […]

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