Poached quinces have a delicate sweetness and rosy color, making them a fine alternative to apples in Chef Melissa Kelly's version of the classic French dessert. To remove the quinces' tough centers, cut the peeled fruit into wedges and then remove the cores with an apple corer or small biscuit cutter.
The fruity poaching liquid can be reduced to a syrup and served as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
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1 1/2 plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
6 cups water
6 large quinces—peeled, cut into 12 wedges each and cored
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
2 pounds all-butter puff pastry, chilled
Sheep's Milk Ice Cream or vanilla ice cream
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar with the vanilla bean and seeds and the water. Cook over high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Add the quince wedges and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 2 hours; occasionally submerge the quinces in the poaching liquid. Let the quinces cool in the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/3 cups of sugar over the butter and cook over moderate heat, without stirring, until the sugar just begins to brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Cook, stirring gently, until the caramel turns dark golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately pour the caramel into eight 4-inch-wide ramekins (1 1/3 -cup capacity). Swirl the caramel in the ramekins to coat the bottoms.
Drain the quinces and arrange the wedges in the ramekins in overlapping circles; scatter the raisins on top.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry 1/8 inch thick. using a large biscuit cutter or small bowl, cut eight 4-inch rounds from the pastry; make two 1-inch slits in the center of each. Top the quinces with the dough rounds and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling. Let cool slightly, then invert onto plates. Serve with Sheep's Milk Ice Cream.
The quinces can be refrigerated in their liquid for up to 3 days. Drain just before using. The baked desserts can stand at room temperature for up to 8 hours; reheat in a 325° oven for 10 minutes before unmolding.
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