Sarah is a passionate and creative cook, which is just as well because she loves variety, and the toddler in her life loves pasta.
The best diet advice I ever heard came from a BBC documentary, where an expert whose name I have sadly forgotten explained that you should eat whatever food you fancied as long as you made it yourself from scratch. His reasoning was that, for example, French fries are delicious—but once you have spent an evening cutting potatoes to size and deep-frying them, you will enjoy them at least until you scrub down your kitchen afterwards. The point being that you will have had what you craved, but you won't want to put yourself through that trouble every day.
I can assure you that quince confectionary is as far away from diet-friendly as they come, but the advice totally applies here. You could certainly buy a box of Turkish Delight, for example, but all the time and effort that goes into making these sugar-packed cubes means that they are special. Not only will you enjoy them all the more knowing how much work has gone into them, but you will absolutely wow any guests coming over, too.
Before You Start
If you are not overly familiar with quinces, you will probably look at a weird fruit that looks similar to an apple or pear and that is covered in a weird white-brownish fuzz. Don't let that put you off, it's totally normal and doesn't mean the quinces are mouldy. The fuzz rubs off easily with a dry tea towel in no time at all.
You should also know that even though quinces look similar to apples, they are a lot tougher. But as long as you have a freshly sharpened knife at hand, this will not hold you back.
- 2 kilograms quinces
- 1 kilogram sugar
- 1 organic orange (you need both peel and juice)
- Additional icing (or regular) sugar for dusting
- Oil spray
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Phase 1: From Quince to Puree
- After removing the fuzz, quarter the quinces and cut each piece in half again so that you end up with somewhat evenly sized chunks of fruit.
- Boil the quince in water for about 50 minutes—you really don't have to worry about over-cooking them like you might for other recipes because you want them really soft.
- Drain the soft fruit in a sieve and let them cool down in there.
- Once they are cool enough to handle, take a wooden spoon and start pureeing the fruit through the sieve into a bowl or straight into the pan you plan to heat them in later. This is a long process and a perfect arm work out - just don't say I didn't warn you!
- Eventually, you will reach a point where the mountain of quince in your sieve has diminished to a fraction of what you started out with. If you can't get any more puree through the sieve, you can discard the skins and dry quince flesh that you are left over. The amount you have ended up with should weigh about half as much now as it did when you boiled them.
Phase 2: From Puree to Confectionery
- Weigh out how much puree you are left with and, in a pan, mix it with an equal amount of sugar. Yes, it totally feels like a game of chicken pouring an almost endless amount of sugar into a pan while the numbers on the scales climb to dizzying heights.
- Add the zest of your orange and squeeze the juice into the pan as well.
- Heat to a boil and stir the whole time until the mixture comes away from the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the mixture into a greased form so that it is about a finger high. If you double up with some grease-proof paper, it will make Phase Three a little easier...
Phase 3: The Long Wait
- Since you want to end up with something that you can cut into cubes and pick up with your fingers, you need to let this "dry" in a cool place for two days in total.
- After a day has passed, the top should feel firm and dry. Now is the time to dust it with either sugar or icing sugar. Both are nice. Icing sugar will give this more of a Turkish Delight look but regular sugar gives it a bit of crunch as you eat it—it's totally your choice though!
- Once it's dusted, flip it onto its other side so that it can dry out, too (this is where the grease-proof paper really helps).
- The next day, you can dust more sugar on.
- Cut it into cubes and serve alongside tea or coffee as a little treat.
I find it best to keep it in a container in the fridge after that where it should keep for a fairly long time thanks to all the sugar that has gone into it...
© 2018 Sarah