For too long a big pile of quinces had been sitting in a large bowl on the countertop. They filled the kitchen with their flowery smell and that made it very difficult for me to start cutting them up. Yesterday I found a few suspicious brown spots on them so I decided to make a quince paste to make the filling for my version of the classic kue nastar cookie. The quince is certainly not the most elegant or easily approachable sister in the pear family, but the knobbely hard fruit makes up for its looks and manners with its rich perfume and honey like taste. Making quince paste is a time consuming job and you can make your life a lot easier by just buying it in a good cheese shop or delicatessen. It is sometimes sold as membrillo. I made little pear shapes from the dough and cut a vanilla pod in little sticks to make the stalks. In the oven the kue nastar cookies drooped a bit and ended up as perfect imperfect quinces.
Kue nastar cookie with quince paste
Voor about 25 cookies
for the filing
about 100 grams of quince paste (membrillo)
1 kilo quinces
about 1 kilo of sugar
juice of a 1/2 lemon
for the dough
1 vanilla pod
150 grams of flour
40 grams of cornflour
10 grams of milk powder (or custard powder)
15 grams of icing sugar
pinch of salt
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder
125 grams of unsalted cold butter
1 egg yolk
for the filing
Brush the quinces clean under a running tap and remove all the fuzzy bits. Cut the quinces in quarters and remove the core. Chop into small pieces and cook with the lid closed in a little bit of water for about 30 min. or until tender. Drain and puree in a food processor. Measure the puree and add an equal amount of sugar and the lemon juice. Cook over low heat for about 1 – 1,5 hours while stirring frequently to reduce the puree to a deep red sticky paste (use a splatter guard if you have one!). Line a baking tin with baking paper and pour in the paste. Leave to cool, wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge until use.
for the dough
Cut the vanilla pod in two and scrape out the seeds. Cut the pod in little pieces to form the stems. Mix the flour with the cornflour, the milk powder, the icing sugar, the salt, the vanilla seeds, the grated lemon rind and the ginger. Cut the butter into little pieces. Rub the butter in the flour through your fingertips until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Quickly knead in the egg yolk and form into a ball. If the dough is too crumbly add a splash of water. Don’t overwork the mixture or it will become tough. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C/ 350° F. Flatten the balls, fold in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of quince paste and form into a pear shape. Stick a piece of the vanilla pod in the top. Place the pears on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 15-20 min. in the middle of the oven until light brown and done.
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