Recipes for Quince date back to Roman times where they were stewed with honey while in medieval England, quince pastes were preferred.
I personally just love the simplicity of slow-poaching the fruit in a vanilla infused sugar syrup. As time passes, they move from having a rather boring apple coloured flesh to this spectacular, vibrant burgundy colour. The slower the poaching, the more intense the colour.
These lovely poached quinces can be enjoyed as is but as Mother's Day is approaching I thought I'd use them to create a special treat. Having an Italian mother, she does love her "Zabaione" but hopefully my little twist won't be too shocking.
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Mandarine Napoléon (or another citrus based spirit)
Oven-poached Quince (instructions below)
Place a poached quince quarter in the base of a Martini glass and trickle over with a little syrup. Set it aside.
Make the Zabaglione:
Whisk the egg yolk and sugar until light and creamy - the sugar must be completely dissolved into the egg yolk - when you rub it between your fingers it should be completely smooth. If it feels gritty, you'll need to whip it some more.
Whisk in the Mandarine Napoléon (you can use Cointreau or Grand Marnier) and then place this bowl over a simmering pot of water - make sure the water does not touch the bottom of your bowl.
Continue whisking until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy and has warmed through - you must constantly whisk as you don't want to end up with sweet scrambled eggs!
Once ready, remove from the heat and pour into the martini glass.
Serve at once.
Prepare the Quince:
Before you begin, make sure you have a large bowl of water into which the juice of one lemon has been added. This is needed to keep the quince from oxidising as you prepare them. It's best to work on one quince at a time.
Cut the quince into quarters, remove the core and then peel. Pop the prepared quince into the acidulated water. If you were making a jam and jelly, you would keep the seeds as this contains pectin and helps in the setting - in this case, they won't be required.
Make the Sugar Syrup:
You'll need enough sugar syrup to generously cover the prepared quince - how much syrup needed is dependant on just how many Quince you have.
My basic formula for the syrup is
4 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
1 lemon, juiced
Place all the syrup ingredients into a pot and bring gently to simmer - stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Lay the quince quarters onto a deep oven-proof dish and pour over with the hot sugar syrup. Take a piece of baking paper and push this into the dish, making sure it makes contact with the syrup. This forms a seal of sorts and ensure that the quince pieces stay under the liquid. You won't need to disturb the quinces during the cooking.
Put the dish on a baking tray and place in a 120ºC/250ºF oven - cooking time will be at the very least 4 hours but it's not unusual to cook this for 6 or even 8 hours.
Once done let the fruits cool in the syrup then place in a sealed container for storage in the fridge.