Saturday, 13 October 2007

Slow Baked Quinces With Mascarpone

Quinces are deeply misunderstood. I suspect that kilos and kilos rot under their trees each year as people don't know what to do with them.

Well I've got news for you - there is more to life than quince jelly. This recipe shows of the unique texture of the fruit and ends up with a beautiful aromatic liqueur which also makes a great ice cream base (more on that later).

I am giving you the choice of using a low oven or a slow cooker. The latter is certainly more economical. You may also find that your oven has an auto cut-out after 6 hours or so so keep an eye on it. I've never tried the oven method but I've eaten the result and it is equally sublime.


Serves 4

4 quinces
a bottle of white wine
250ml water
400g sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
2 star anise
200g mascarpone or greek yogurt
bay leaves for serving


Heat the oven to 100c (gas mark 1/4) or warm your slow cooker up. Combine the wine, water, sugar and aromatics in a heatproof, ovenproof lidded dish (or a large pan if using a slow cooker) and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Scrub the quinces, peel them (reserving the peelings) and cut in half lengthways. If oven baking, add to the liquid-filled oven dish immediately with the peelings and transfer to the oven. If using a slow cooker, add the liquid, quinces and peelings to the cooker and set it to low.

Oven bake for 8 hours or slow cook for 10 hours. Over this time the cooking liquor will develop a deep red colour and your entire home will be filled with a glorious smell of Christmas. Once cooked leave to cool, strain out and discard the aromatics and peelings and serve the fruit with their juice, a dollop of mascarpone or greek yoghurt and a bay leaf to garnish.

Notes for gluttons

The cooked quinces keep for up to a week in the fridge so don't be shy, double up the quantities! Unless you guzzle it in a glass, you will have spare cooking liqueur when you have eaten the quinces. This can be reduced and used to flavour a delicious mild ice cream. I'll try and post it soon.

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