You might already be tossing around the idea of hosting a holiday party. If so, here’s the perfect holiday dessert!
Chef Lesli Sommerdorf with Harmons shares several ways to prepare quince in your holiday cooking.
7 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 lemon, cut in half
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large or 8 medium quince
In a large, nonreactive pot over medium-high heat, combine the water, sugar, honey, lemon and vanilla bean.
Meanwhile, quarter, peel, and remove the cores of the quince. Make sure to remove anything tough or fibrous. Once ready, slip each quince piece into the simmering liquid. Once they’re all done, cover the pot with a round of parchment paper with a walnut-sized hole cut in the center and place it on top.
Turn the heat to low and simmer the quince until the quince are cooked through, 1-2 hours. They’re done when they are tender when pierced by a paring knife.
Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, pour the quince and their liquid into a storage container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Quince Tarte Tatin
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons ice water
1 1/4 cups strained quince poaching liquid
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, optional
In the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt, and butter, until the butter is in small pieces, about the size of large peas.
Add the water and pulse until the dough just begins to hold together. If it looks too dry, add a sprinkle more water. Use your hands to knead the dough for a couple of seconds, just until it comes together, and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, pour in the quince poaching liquid and cook until thick and syrupy, 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat. You should have about 1/4 cup.
Pat dry 9-11 poached quince quarters and place them tightly against each other, rounded side down, in the pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and adjust rack to lower third of the oven.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle a few inches bigger than the skillet you’re using. Drape the dough over the quince and tuck in the edges around the fruit. Bake the tart until the dough is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack, about 5 minutes. Place a rimmed serving platter over the tart, and flip the tart over. Be careful not to burn yourself and save any glaze that comes out to pour back over the tart. Serve warm, or at room temperature with whipped cream, if using.
The quantity of dough is suitable for any size pan, from 8 to 10 inches. If using a mold at the larger end of that spectrum, simply increase the quantity of quince liquid by about 25%. If quince aren’t your thing, poached pears work just as well.
And don’t worry if the quince syrup gels after it sits for a bit in the pan, as mine did in the photo above. Heat it with a bit more liquid, stirring until it’s smooth again. Extra syrup that collects from the finished tart should be saved to drizzle or brush over wedges of the finished tart, giving them a brilliant sheen.