I glanced out the window while eating breakfast and noticed the juxtaposition of the light against the turning leaves. I said to my husband, "it's time for quince." Without saying another word, we washed the dishes and dressed for our trip to the orchard.
I've been dreaming about quince since fall arrived here in New England. Quince is big, yellow, knobby and something of a cross between an apple and a pear. It's quite bitter until you cook it on the stove with sugar but once it's done, it's sweet, soft and delicious. I couldn't wait to get to the orchard to buy some.
I was also excited because I love visiting the orchard. To me, orchards are magical. I love the rows of trees, the colors and the slope of the land. I love them because they give us fresh food even after most of the farm stands and farmers markets have closed for the winter. For whatever reason, it's not the first time we've talked about how wonderful it would be to have an old farm house with an orchard out back.
Of course, we were diverted on the way by caramel apples and cider doughnuts but that didn't keep us from finding fresh quince. I had neither tasted nor heard of quince when I stumbled upon an incredible membrillo recipe on Aran's beautiful blog. For three years now we've made her membrillo in autumn and eaten it with a delectable cheese from here or here. This year we decided to do something different.
We decided to turn the recipe into something sweet called pate de fruit. It's especially simple to make pate de fruit with this recipe because quince contains a lot of pectin. No gelatin is required to make the recipe work. It's an elegant treat with incredible fresh fruit flavor.
How I wanted to taste this candy. When all was said and done there was only one obstacle between me and the pate de fruit - my right arm. I injured it about over a week ago and it's simply too hard for me to find success in the kitchen with my left hand alone. Thankfully, my husband stepped in and deftly turned this bitter fruit into one of our favorite treats of all time. He did an amazing job with the recipe. I know you'll love it too.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Quince Pate de Fruit (only slightly adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)
4 large quinces
Juice of 1 lemon
Sugar (25% less amount as pureed quince)
Peel, core and quarter the quince. Cut the quarters in half. Place the cut quince in a bowl with lemon juice to stop it from oxidizing.
Place the quince in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the quince until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
Drain the water out and puree the soft quince. Weigh the puree on a scale. You will need slightly less sugar than puree (about 25% less). That is, if you have 1000g of puree, you'll need about 750 g of sugar. You need less sugar for this recipe than the membrillo recipe because you're going to roll the candy in sugar at the end and don't want it to be overly sweet. Don't worry about it being exactly 3/4 of the amount. Simply measure the puree and put in a bit less sugar.
Place the puree and sugar in a large pot and start cooking it in medium heat. When the sugar melts and it starts to get hot, it will bubble up and might burn so be very, very careful when stirring. Wear gloves if necessary. Turn the heat down a bit but make sure there are still small bubbles forming. Cook this mixture for about an 45 minutes to an hour. It may take longer if you have a lot of quince. You can tell it's done when it turns a deep orange color and gets very thick.
Transfer the thick paste, into a quarter sheetpan lined with parchment and let it cool. Once cool, cut into squares and roll each square in sugar. Leave out uncovered overnight so the pate de fruit develops a stronger shape.
Later, store at room temperature in a covered container.