Quince, the pleasantly sour, fragrant apple-pear hybrid, is having a moment. Chefs are serving the firm fruit in everything from savory, cold-weather stews to desserts, like this simple but elegant cake. “Quince has a delicate floral flavor and there’s nothing else quite like it, so I’m always excited when they come into season,” says Bill Corbett, San Francisco-based executive pastry chef for Boxing Room and Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. His quince recipe gets a flavor boost from tinges of amaretto and olive oil, making it an on-trend tart for spring transition.
For the quince:
8 quinces, chopped into 1-inch cubes, plus 6 quinces, peeled, for melon balling and poaching
5 cups sugar
Combine the 8 chopped quinces and sugar in a saucepan. Pour enough water in the pan to cover the quinces by a few inches. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a
simmer. Cook until the syrup becomes ruby red (add water if too much evaporates).
Use a melon baller to create the quince balls. Place the quince balls into the syrup and cook over low heat until tender. Remove the quince balls from the syrup and transfer to a dish, allowing the quince balls to cool in a refrigerator.
For the almond frangipane:
8 ounces butter, softened, plus more to grease parchment paper
1⅛ cups sugar
2⅓ cups almond flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
High-quality olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs one at a time, and continue to whip the mixture until it’s light and stiff. Incorporate the flours and salt in three stages, adding the amaretto between the second and third additions.
Line a cake pan with greased parchment paper, and pipe a ½-inch-thick layer of frangipane into the pan. Drain and pat the dry quince balls, and press them into the frangipane in an even layer.
Bake in the oven until dark, golden brown in color. Remove the pan from the oven, and the cake from the pan. Slice it and serve warm with vanilla ice cream, then drizzle it with olive oil. Serves 8.
Wine Pairing: “At Absinthe [Brasserie & Bar], we are pairing the Almond Quince Cake with Piquemal Rivesaltes 1988, which comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France,” says the eatery’s chief sommelier, Aaron Wasserman. “This naturally sweet wine has a distinct amber color with a honey and marzipan flavor profile. These elements really complement the quince and almond flavors without overwhelming the dessert with cloying sweetness.”