If your first question is “what on earth is a quince?” then you need to keep reading.
If you have never had a quince, then you are exactly where I was about 10 years ago before moving to Australia. When first presented with these wobbly looking fruit, I was curious when the first thing that I was told was that you can’t eat it unless you cook it. Better yet, it turns pink when you cook it! The quince is related to apples and pears but is much harder and never really gets sweet on its own. They often come with a layer of fuzz on them and do need to be peeled before you cook them. They are not easy to get your hands on and so if you know someone with a tree or you happen come across them at a farmer’s market, grab a couple right away. The quince is a bit of an old fashioned thing and so bringing out a quince dessert will not only solidify your position as vintage chic but will bring a little joy to whoever you decide to honour with a free dessert.
Once you have your quinces, a quick google search will let you know that most people seem to make them into jelly. While delicious, quince jelly is just not the idea usage for me. I want something that I can bake up. Something that has a little crunch to go with the softness of the cooked quince. I also want a little spice to play with the aromatic and almost perfumed nature of the quince. And of course, because I am Canadian, I want a little maple… It is settled, I want a tart!
This is one of the more simple things that you can make. If you are ridiculously ambitious or are competing on a competitive cooking show, then make your own puff pastry. If you are a working mom or just plain don’t have hours to fold butter into pastry, then grab some frozen stuff. I assure you that there is no shame in it. Once you have your pastry defrosted, it is time to cook the quinces and the best way to do that is to poach them in a sugar syrup. Some people use dessert wine, but I use a straight sugar and water solution with a few spices thrown in for good measure. I should also point out that if you are not wanting to waste anything, you should really boil down the liquid once the quinces are poached and use the resulting syrup to brush over the quinces. This is a fine option, but I like to use maple syrup because it just adds another dimension to the tarts.
These maple quince tarts and sweet and a little spiced and perfect for a quick sweet treat on to be savoured with a cup of team.
Maple Quince Tarts
Sweet, warm and perfectly delicious.
- 4 quinces
- 200 grams of sugar
- 5 cups of water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 cardamon pods
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 star anise
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 package puff pastry
- Peel and quarter the quinces and remove the cores
- Bring the water to boil in a large pot and add the sugar, lemon, cardamon, cinnamon and star anise.
- Add the quinces to the water and simmer for 20 minutes or until they are soft.
- Remove the quinces from the water once soft and set them aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out the puff pastry to a half centimetre thick and divide into 8 pieces
- Slice the quinces and spread them out onto the puff pasty
- Grate some ginger over each of the tarts and then brush with maple syrup
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the puff pasty has puffed and is gold brown and crunchy
- Remove the tarts from the oven, cool, sprinkle with a little powdered sugar for effect and serve!
- I like to keep my ginger in the freezer and then grate it with a little rasp or grater when I need some. Works well and means that your ginger lasts longer!
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