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Quince Paste

In Spain, slices of this sweet fragrant paste, called membrillo, are served atop wedges of rich Manchego cheese as an hors d’oeuvre. Try it with goat cheese as well—or just put it out for breakfast in place of jam.

Serves 16

2 lb. quinces (about 4 medium), peeled, cored, and chopped into ¾-inch pieces

½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out

2 strips lemon zest (each ½x2 inches)

2 cups granulated sugar; more or less as needed

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened

Put the quinces, vanilla bean pod and seeds, and lemon zest in a 4-quart saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the quinces are tender when poked with a knife, about 40 minutes.

Drain the quinces in a colander and discard the vanilla bean. Puree the fruit and lemon zest in a food processor. Measure the puree by volume, return it to the saucepan, and add an equal volume of sugar. (For example, if you have 2 cups of puree, add 2 cups of sugar.)

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the puree becomes a very thick paste, about 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 125°F. If your oven doesn’t go this low, use the lowest temperature possible and expect a shorter cooking time. Line an 8×8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with parchment and grease with the butter. Pour the quince paste (don’t scrape the pot) into the dish and smooth the top with the wooden spoon. Bake until slightly dried and firm enough to slice, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Invert onto a cutting board and cut the quince paste into four 2-inch-wide strips. Wrap each strip in plastic wrap and refrigerate. The quince paste will keep for up to 1 month.


It is a quote. Fine Cooking Magazine October / November 2011

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