I don’t remember the first time I ate this dessert, nor do I remember who had made it. All I can remember is the feeling. I absolutely loved the dessert, even though I had never been a fan of quince as a fruit or of the fruit desserts such as baked apples or poached pears etc.
I think what I love most about quince as a dessert is that even though you use a huge amount of sugar to make it and you cook in lowest heat for almost 2 hours, it still doesn’t get too sweet and retains its shape and firmness. In fact, it is a slightly sour dessert. This sweet and sour taste is very well balanced if you serve it with cream on top and some nuts, particularly roasted pistachios; though you can surely serve it plain as well.
In fact, in Turkey, quince dessert is served with “kaymak” – which is a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream. To be honest, I could find kaymak in Turkish or some other ethnic markets, but I have never really liked it so I replaced it with whipped heavy cream instead. If you are a fan of any similar dairy product / cream, you can use that too.
The dessert gets it red colour from its seeds. In some restaurants and cafes in Turkey, I know that they use food colouring to change the colour. However, if you keep the seeds while peeling and add them to the pot, they slowly but naturally give colour to the fruit.
Quince has many health benefits – it has tons of vitamins and minerals, together with various organic compounds all of which make this lovely yellow fruit beneficial for your health in many ways, from cancer prevention to lowering blood pressure and treating stomach problems. In Helsinki, you can find it in some ethnic markets, like Hauler in Kaisaniemi. I didn’t use to like it back when I was a kid, but I love eating it raw as a fruit now, whenever I can find it.
Oh and one more thing: so long, Leonard Cohen.. I will miss you forever.
Difficulty: ★★☆ (Medium – only because it takes a long time to cook)
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups / 3 dl + 4 tbsp granulated white sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
To serve (optional)
Whipped heavy cream, or kaymak (see the story above to understand what it is) or any other creamy product you like
Roasted pistachios or any other roasted nuts you prefer
1. In a slightly big bowl, put 2 lt water in room temperature, add lemon juice and stir a little.
2. Divide each quince in two. Core and peel the pieces, keeping the seeds to use later. Put each ready quince piece into lemony water immediately, to keep from changing its colour. (NOTE: I am actually not sure if this is 100% necessary as the colour of the fruit will change significantly to red while cooking anyway. But I still apply this step just in case.)
3. When all fruits are ready, take a pot (I used a wide but shallow one) and place quinces in one layer, with core side looking upwards. If the pieces do not sit well balanced, just cut a small piece from behind to make a flat base.
4. In the middle and around each quince piece, pour granulated white sugar.
5. Put cloves in the pot, in between fruits.
6. Put seeds and cinnamon sticks in the pot.
7. Pour 1 cup / 2.4 dl water in room temperature into the pot, from the side of the pot.
8. Put the pot in medium high heat and boil the water. Stay there as it boils in just a few minutes. Once water boils, put the heat down to lowest, cover the pot and let it cook in this lowest heat for 1.5 to 2 hours – until the fruit gets soft and changes its colour (it will take a long time for the colour change to start so do not be worried). Once they are cooked, turn off the heat and let the fruits cool inside the pot, covered. When you take out the fruits later to serve, keep the syrup at the base of the pot to spread a little on top of each piece. Enjoy!