Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quince In Merlot With Vanilla Cream

Although I've made a quince tarte tatin before, and a simple quince sauce for spooning over ice cream (when I didn't have a clue what to do with this beautiful, rare fruit), stewing or poaching quince in sweetened merlot enhanced with a vanilla bean is my favorite way to prepare it. Serve it over a soft vanilla cream pudding and you've got an elegant dessert that takes almost no time to prepare.

Well, there's quite a bit of time involved in the peeling, coring and cutting of the fruit, but once you've got that job done, the rest goes easily.

Quinces, in their natural state, are rock-hard fruits with a skin that does not easily separate from the body. The flesh of the raw fruit is very tart and acerbic, much like chewing on a non-chewable vitamin C tablet. Cook these fruits down in a sweetened liquid, however, and you've got something to blog about. And to delight your dinner guests with.

Quince Stewed in Merlot
4-5 quince fruits, peeled, cored and sliced, about 3 cups
juice of 1 lemon
enough water to submerge the quince pieces
2 cups good merlot
3/4 cup Splenda-Sugar Blend or 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Start this early in the day, or even the night before. The quince needs to soak in the merlot for a number of hours before cooking.
Make acidulated water by combining the water and lemon juice in a bowl.
As you peel and slice the fruits, place the slices in the water to prevent them from browning.
When all the fruit is ready, pour into a colander and rinse under running water.
Pour the merlot into a glass dish large enough to hold the fruit.
Add the Splenda-sugar blend or regular sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add the split vanilla bean and the quince pieces, stir, cover and refrigerate for 8-10 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.
When ready to cook, place the quince and the merlot liquid into a sauce pan over medium heat.
Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat so the mixture simmers.
Simmer in this manner until the fruits have just softened to an edible consistency, about 20 minutes.
You must now check for sweetness by tasting a piece of the fruit. Tasting the liquid will not help you to determine if the fruit is of an edible sweetness. At this point you can add more sugar, if necessary, and continue cooking until the fruit is soft enough to serve. I like my stewed quince to maintain some tartness as the vanilla cream will mellow it out a bit.
When the fruit is cooked through, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, do not drain. If not serving within a few hours, it can be refrigerated but I would let it sit at room temp for a bit before serving to take the chill out.

Vanilla Cream
This is a recipe I've been making for many, many years. It's adapted from my first cookbook, Betty Crocker's Cook Book.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup Splenda-Sugar Blend
2 cups fat-free 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup egg substitute such as Lucerne's Best of the Egg
2 teaspoons good vanilla
2 tablespoons Smart Balance Buttery Spread (not "light") or unsalted butter


In a medium saucepan, stir together the cornstarch, sugar blend and salt until well blended. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the 1/2 & 1/2 and the egg substitute. Slowly whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients in the saucepan, until they are full incorporated. Over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and just comes to a boil. Stir for about 1 minute, allowing the mixture to cook at a low boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature with a piece of plastic wrap laid right on top of the cream. This will keep a rubbery skin from forming.

To serve: Spoon vanilla cream into bowls. With a slotted spoon, place some of the stewed quince on top of each serving.


  1. What a wonderful recipe! The quince looks delicious. And healthy ice cream...fabulous!

  2. We had the quince again last night atop small scoops of Dreyers Natural Vanilla ice cream. Yum!

  3. Looks delicious indeed. I've never had quince before. Would love to try it.



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