"Oregon fruit is the total core of my candymaking," says Jami Curl, founder of the Portland small-batch confectioner QUIN. "My first recipe was lollipops with real Oregon strawberries. It was a powerful moment."
Curl operates a production kitchen in industrial Southeast Portland, turning out no-fake-ingredients caramels, chews, hard candies, lollipops, gumdrops and other treats. They are available online or at Saint Cupcake (the successful bakery business she sold), QUIN's tiny shop in Southwest Portland and retail stores nationwide.
"Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes" is her disarmingly personal and totally fun debut cookbook. The design, illustrations and vivid photos lure us in, and Curl provides a wealth of details and precise instructions to assuage our fear of cooking sugar. "It's true that melted sugar is hot and sticky," she says. "Accept and respect it."
Candymaking is chemistry and the self-trained Curl insists you weigh ingredients on a digital kitchen scale; her recipes are calculated in grams. But once you are comfortable with the basics, she encourages instinct and experimentation to develop flavor ideas.
Roasted fruit purées — made with cherries, peaches, any of our multitude of berries — are a foundation for candies, flavored milks, ice cream and more. And that brings us back to Curl's juicy, sweet love: With all this rain and sun, "Oregon fruit has no choice but to be totally delicious!"
Roasted Strawberries with Lemon Purée
"QUIN is lucky to be nestled in a valley of Oregon known for growing luscious, bright-red strawberries. Around June, the fever hits, the first berries pop up at markets or farm stands and people get a little crazy. And understandably so — strawberries are the first breath of summer we’re all longing for, that tiny bit of hope that warmer days are about to emerge from the clouds." — Jami Curl
Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes (excluding roasting) | Very easy
Makes about 1 pint (or 2 cups)
- 3 pints strawberries, hulled
- 45 grams fresh lemon juice
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 227 grams granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Spread out the strawberries in a 9-by-13-inch pan and sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over the top. Nestle the vanilla bean and scrapings in the berries, then shower the sugar over everything.
- Slide the pan into the oven and roast the berries for 55 to 65 minutes, rotating the pan if you start to notice one side of the berries getting darker than the other. As the berries roast, they will release a great deal of moisture, so take care when opening the oven, as the steam will be hot. The berries are ready when the tops that are peeking out of the juices are visibly darker than the rest of the berry. There will be a good deal of juice in the pan, and that's perfectly fine.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the contents to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, pluck out the vanilla bean. Pour the contents of the pan into a strainer placed over a bowl. Spoon the strawberries into a blender.* Next, use a scale to weigh out 100 grams of the reserved juice and add it to the blender with the berries. Whirl the berries and juice on high speed for about 1 minute, until velvety smooth.
*You could use an immersion blender in a pot or bowl instead
Use the purée now or store (refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze in a freezer-safe jar or resealable plastic bag for up to 6 months).
Save the juice and the bean
Now that you've strained the berries of their deeply flavored juice, don't pour it down the drain! Here are my top suggestions for what to do with any leftover juice from roasting fruits:
- Use it in place of maple syrup on your morning pancakes, waffles or French toast
- Stir it into yogurt or hot cereal
- Spoon it over your favorite ice cream
- Drizzle it over ricotta cheese that you've spread on a slice of toast.
And while you’re at it, don’t throw out that vanilla bean pod. Instead, carefully pull it out of the hot fruit (if your fingers can handle it, squeeze the length of the pod to release any vanilla and clingy fruit back into the pan), carry it to the sink, give it a good rinse inside and out, and set it aside to dry. After a few days, the pod will be ready to stick into your sugar jar, where its sweet, beautiful vanilla scent and flavor will slowly find its way into the sugar.
Roasted Strawberry Whipped Cream
This can be used for any dessert in which you’d use whipped cream. It’s especially good between layers of vanilla cake that are nestled into some sort of trifle with fresh fruit. But, let’s be honest, it’d be just as good heaped on a milk shake or served with a bowl of summer blueberries.
Prep time: Less than 10 minutes using a mixer or 15 minutes-plus by hand | Easy
Makes about 1 pint (or 2 cups)
- 8 fluid ounces heavy cream
- Heaping 2 tablespoons roasted strawberry purée
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- Chill the bowl of your stand mixer and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment, or ready a chilled bowl on a damp kitchen towel and grab your favorite whisk.
- Pour the cream into the chilled bowl. If using a mixer, start it on low speed and add the purée and brown sugar. Increase the speed to medium and whip the cream until it holds a peak. If using a bowl and whisk, add the cream to the bowl followed by the purée and brown sugar. Using as much stamina as you can muster, whip the cream until it holds a peak. With either method, don't take it too far or you'll be on your way to butter.
Reprinted with permission from "Candy is Magic," copyright 2017 by Jami Curl. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright 2017 by Maggie Kirkland. Illustrations copyright 2017 by Michelle Ott.
"Local berries are not made to travel, says Curl. "They are small, delicate – you can tell they're ripe by touching." Here are her links for searching out local berries and other fresh fruits in season:
- Oregon Strawberries
- Tri-County Farms strawberries
- Pick Your Own Farms Oregon
- Pick Your Own Farms Washington
- Oregon Farmers Market
- Lee Farms, Tualatin
- Smith Berry Barn, Hillsboro
QUIN uses frozen fruits from Willamette Valley Pie Company. Home cooks can order them online or find them in grocery stores around Oregon and Southwest Washington.