Ever wonder what professionals use to glaze fruit tarts for that shiny glisten? It's actually a glaze made from fruit that's a liquid when heated but gels as it cools. This is the same mechanism that makes jams and preserves. The glaze is called "nappage" and the active chemical is called "pectin," which is found in virtually all fruits.
Pectin is similar to gelatin in that it's a thickener but has a very different feel (plus it's vegan if that matters to you). Commercially, pure pectin is generally made from apricots and will often add an orange hue to the glaze.
Preparing a neutral nappage is pretty easy, though pectin can be fickle. You need both citric acid and sugar for the reaction to take place, or you can opt for no-sugar pectin. This recipe will work with either that or regular pectin.
For this preparation, you need:
Makes 4 cups of glaze, a bulk preparation that you can scale down as needed.
Cinnamon can add a nice subtle flavor to your nappage, but it is certainly not necessarily and heavily depends on your application.
Mix the sugar and pectin together and set them aside. Heat the water to 113°F (45°C). This is the right temperature to start the pectin reaction.
Bring everything to a boil for about 3 minutes.
At this stage, it should already feel a tiny bit thicker (at least thicker than water). It should fight you as you drag the spoon through it, but don't expect it to feel like pudding.
Take the saucepan off of the heat to start cooling the nappage. Stir every 5 minutes to prevent a film from forming and to cool the mixture evenly. When the glaze cools to 95°F (35°C), it is ready to use. Brush it onto your fruit tarts quickly.
You can cool and reheat this glaze in the microwave, but not indefinitely. Eventually the pectin will start to "get tired" and liquefy. If you can find it, a processed form of pectin called "pectin NH" is thermally reversible, meaning it can be cooled and reheated repeatedly.
If you simply don't have time to make this glaze, you can always opt for a lazy nappage. Simple heat and strain a jar of apricot preserves. The result will not be nearly as smooth and professional, so I highly recommend the investment in preparing your own neutral nappage. It will be well worth it.
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