Thursday, December 1, 2005

Quince-Raisin Tarte Tatin

A few days before Thanksgiving, while walking down the produce section of our local Murphy's Market, I spied a dozen golden yellow, medium sized quince nestled in a basket of white netting . Instantly, visions of ruby slices cooked down to a tender, mouth-watering dish of citrusy-melony sweetness almost made me dizzy. I bought a bunch of them, their lovely scent filling my shopping basket with a gentle perfume.

At home, while poring through my legion of cookbooks, I happened upon Georgeann Brennan's Potager. This is a lovely book that I return to again and again for rustic but elegant French-inspired dishes. Here, then, is an adaptation of her recipe of Quince Tarte Tatin, which was served the evening before Thanksgiving to early arrivals.

Fruit Preparation (start this the day before serving)
  • 6 medium quinces
  • 2 cups Merlot
  • 1/4 cup sugar/Splenda blend
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
Peel and core the quinces and cut into 1/4 inch slices. In a bowl, mix sugar, wine, vanilla bean, raisins and quinces. Cover and let stand at room temperature 12 hours or overnight.
Butter Pastry Dough - adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2003
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar or Splenda
  • a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons, or more, ice water
Blend flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Add butter and pulse just until coarse meal forms. Add ice water by tablespoons, pulsing just until moist clumps form. Add water by the 1/2 tablespoon if dough is dry. Gather into a ball, press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. Let soften slightly before rolling out. This recipe makes 1 nine-inch crust. Double the recipe for a double pie crust.
Putting it all together
Butter a glass pie dish, 9 to 10 inches in diameter, with 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the bottom of the buttered dish.
With a slotted spoon, remove the quince and raisins from the merlot soaking liquid. Leaving the vanilla bean behind, place 1/2 of the quince-raisin mixture in the pie dish, covering the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with 1/8 cup of sugar and then add the rest of the quince-raisin mixture and sprinkle with another 1/8 cup of sugar. (By the way, I used Splenda-Sugar blend in my tarte, following the suggested measurement ratios, and it tasted wonderful.) Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces and dot the top of the fruit mixture with it.
Roll the pastry out on a floured cloth to about 1/8 inch thickness. Wrap the pastry around your rolling pin and place it atop the pie dish. Trim the edge of the pastry, fold the edges under and tuck inside the pie dish. Pinch the dough to adhere to the sides of the dish then prick all over with a fork.
Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven in the center of the middle rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the tarte is done, the crust will be a golden brown and a thick, ruby colored syrup will have formed in the bottom of the dish. Better yet, some of the syrup will leak out of the top of the crust. A sure sign of doneness.
Remove the tarte from the oven, gently loosen the crust with a knife, place a platter over the tarte dish and, holding the tarte dish and the platter together, immediately invert the tarte onto the platter.
Bonus Sauce
Don't toss out the merlot-sugar-vanilla bean soaking liquid. Instead, remove the vanilla bean, place the liquid in a saucepan and bring to a boil, reducing it by 1/2. This may take 1/2 hour or more. Be careful not to let the liquid burn. When it has reduced and thickened somewhat, add 1/4 cup heavy cream, stirring madly all the while. Be careful here, adding the cream can make the liquid in the pan boil up. Keep stirring until the cream is incorporated and the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, allow to cool and serve drizzled over the tarte.

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