Well, my first outing with quince turned into a bust; it perfumed my house as it cooked (it was heavenly), but I blew it at the very end by overcooking the paste, trying to get it set. It turned into a hard, caramelized mess.
But I couldn't forget that sweet and exotic perfumed taste and fragrance; quince suddenly became an obsession. Alas, I couldn't get my hands on any more fresh fruit, so it seemed like I would have to wait until next year for another try.
And then I was in France, on the hunt for a quick, easy dessert for a dinner party. I already had apples and I planned a very American apple tart. Easy and quick.
But then I spied what looked like a jar of quince jam at the grocery store. I actually didn't even know the word for quince, but there was no hiding that telltale color. I took it home, opened and tasted, and there was that wonderful perfume. Yes, a quince and apple tart would be just the thing.
This is another classic pairing - apple and quince - and the nice thing about this tart is that you don't even need to hunt down the fresh fruit. A good quince jam will do, and it makes your house smell so good.
I'll still have to wait until next year to try again with fresh fruit, but jam like this makes the waiting sweet. And when quince season rolls around again, I'll know what to do.
Quince and Apple Tart
1/3 recipe Basic Pie Crust (or a pie crust of your own choosing)
1 egg yolk, beaten
12 ounces quince jam
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brandy or rum (optional)
3 large sweet apples, like Golden Delicious, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
Heat the oven to 425°F. Lightly butter a 10-inch round tart pan. Roll out the pie dough and press into the pan. Refrigerate until chilled - about half an hour. When chilled, remove from the fridge and brush lightly with beaten egg yolk.
Take 1 cup (2/3 of the jar) of the jam and spread it evenly over the tart bottom. Put the rest (1/2 cup) into a small saucepan with the water and liquor and warm over low heat. Stir and keep warm - it should be very liquid.
Arrange the apples in a circular pattern over the jam on the tart bottom, then sprinkle with the sugar and spices. Spread the warmed jam over top of the apples. Dot the top with the chunks of butter.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche.
Related: Recipe: Peach and Thyme Polenta Tart
(Images: Faith Durand)