June 3, 2012

Chocolate, Quince and Almond Tart

As we bid farewell to the season of Autumn, I find myself with possibly one of the last decent batches of quince at the markets. Hardly ever eaten raw, this delightful fruit oozes of a rich, honeyed fragrance and is firm, with a golden yellow skin that can sometimes be coated in thin, greyish fur. When cooked, the flesh of the quince takes on a sweet tart flavour with a moist and rich rosy pink flesh. Due to its hard, white and astringent raw state, the quince is at its best after long, slow cooking methods like poaching and baking.

After watching an episode on Masterchef, where Maggie Beer made the most decadent concoction of chocolate, Vino Cotto and almond cream, combining it with wonderfully poached quince on a golden, crumbly sour cream pastry, I knew this was the exact recipe I wanted to use my quince for.

Vino Cotto is made from the must of grapes and has an aromatic, unique sweet/sour flavour. It is Italian and can be found in most supermarkets and Mediterranean food stores. When preparing the quince, bear in mind that its flesh can discolor quickly. Once you have peeled and cored it, place the fruit in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice to help stop the oxidising.

Serves 12:
Pot Roasted Quinces:
1kg quinces
Squeeze of lemon juice
450ml water
1¼ cup Verjuice
400g caster sugar

Sour Cream Pastry:
200g unsalted butter, chilled
250g plain flour
125ml sour cream

Chocolate and Vino Cotto Frangipane:
120g unsalted butter, softened
150g fine caster sugar
200g almond meal
2 free range eggs
1 free range egg yolk
50g dark chocolate cocoa powder
4 tbs Vino Cotto (made from the must of grapes)

Double cream or vanilla bean ice cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Once you have peeled the quinces, cut in half and remove the cores and cut into quarters. Place in a large bowl of water, squeeze over lemon juice and set aside to stop the browning process.

To pot roast the quinces, place the water, Verjuice and sugar into a heavy based medium sized pot. Place over a high heat, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes, until a syrup begins to form. Place the quartered quinces into the syrup.

Cover with a lid and place into the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then give the quinces a very light toss making sure not to break up the wedges. Place back into the oven.

Check the quinces every 30 minutes to make sure that the liquid has not all evaporated. If it starts to, and they're looking like they will catch on the bottom, add an extra 100ml of water. They will take approximately 2 ¾ hours to cook.

Once the quinces are cooked, they should be a beautiful ruby red colour and a small amount of syrup left in the base of the pot. They should not be dry or caught on the base of the pot. Remove the quinces from the pot and place onto a plate or tray and set aside to cool.

Increase the temperature of the oven to 200°C.

To make the frangipane, place the butter and caster sugar into a food mixer and beat until light and creamy (approximately 6 minutes). Then add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, then the cocoa and Vino Cotto and mix for a further 1 minute. Add the almond meal and mix until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

To make the sour cream pastry, pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add ¾ of the sour cream, pulse a couple of times more, then add the remaining sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough just starts to come together in a ball.

Tip the pastry out onto the bench and bring it together with your hands, gently pushing it in from the sides to form a rectangle (approx 2cm thick). Use a long, flat spatula to help you lift the pastry onto a large sheet of clingfilm, wrap it and refrigerate for 10 to 20 minutes to rest.

Roll out the sour cream pastry to 3mm thick, and grease a flan tin (23cm x 2.5cm). Use a rolling pin to carefully roll and lift up the pastry to line the flan tin. Cut off the excess pastry around the edge, but allow the pastry to come above the tin by 5mm, to allow for shrinking during blind baking. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.

Remove the tart shell from the fridge, spike the bottom with a fork, line the top with baking paper and place rice or blind baking beans on the top.

Place into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and baking paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C. Place two thirds of the chocolate and Vino Cotto frangipane mix on the base of the tart shell. Top with the cooked quince wedges and dot the remaining amount of the frangipane on top of the quinces.

Return the tart to the oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. This time will depend on the oven, but just be sure that the frangipane is cooked in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve while warm with a dollop of double cream or vanilla bean ice cream.

Chocolate, Quince and Almond Tart


Cindy said...

Oh, yum! I've cooked with quinces a few times but I don't think I've ever paired them with chocolate.

Saucy Thyme said...

Yes I remember your quince crumble, which looked delish! The chocolate frangipane in this tart is quite rich, so it's really lovely with the quince :)