Black Grape & Pedro Ximenez Sherry Pastilles
This is my adaptation of a recipe from the Cheltenham chef whose mushrooms are wild but whose cooking is magic. I had wanted to increase the number of petits fours which I might offer after meals. When, after a short trip back to his parental home, our son left us with nothing but fond farewells and a considerably large bunch of black grapes I had something to work with.
500g black grape purée/juice
100g Pedro Ximenez sherry
500g caster sugar
100g liquid glucose
20g pectin powder
7g tartaric acid
to coat: 200g granulated sugar
The grapes were zizzed with a hand blender and then passed through a sieve. This leaves something with a little more substance… between a juice and a purée.
Combine that with 50g of the sherry, 450g of the caster sugar and the glucose in a large pan. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Cook up to 102°C, stirring enough to stop any sticking or burning.
Mix the rest of the caster sugar with the pectin powder, combining thoroughly. Whisk that mixture into the syrup when it reaches 102°C. Carefully... it's hot! Keep heating and make sure to stir until up to 110°C. Whisk in the tartaric acid and the other 50g of sherry. Strain into a tray lined with baking parchment to a depth of 1cm and leave to cool.
You can then cut into squares, strips or rectangles or use a small circular cutter. A silicone mould gives you the option of getting a more familiar rounded pastille shape. Toss the pieces in the granulated sugar and place in layers separated by baking paper in an airtight container.
My first batch had less pectin and tartaric content and produced a very sticky set. All was not lost as I picked off lumps to roll into balls with lightly wet hands and fingers. Once tossed into the sugar these sunk to a flatter but pleasing domed mound. Even more pleasing is the taste. Some fruit jellies benefit from a teaspoon of citric acid in the sugar coating but these shouldn't be pulled back from their sweet, sticky indulgence.
Here they are joining others from my current home-made selection:
Soft amaretti (Mrs Cheoff's work)
White chocolate and salted lemon fudge
Bitter chocolate fudge with pistachios and raisins
And... Black grape and Pedro Ximenez jellies!