Thursday, May 13, 2010

Slow Baked Quince & Honey Panna Cotta

Time to take a step back from the 'scary' cray-cray that was the Lady Gaga Cake, with something slightly more elegant. Quinces, in my humble opinion, are a magical fruit. They start off all yellow, wrinkly and funny looking, smelling like an under ripe apple or pear. But then you cook it for a ridiculously long time and it turns this beautiful rich, rosy red, tender while holding it's shape nicely. Magical! It makes me sad that I only started using them a couple of years ago.
As a home baker, constantly learning and (hopefully) improving, I find it difficult to look past the flaws in the things I bake. For instance, this dish was pretty much going to plan until I decided to plate it up and realised that the pashmak (persian fairy floss) that I wanted to put on top of the quince had turned into a rock hard ball of sugar. ARgh@!!! Much swearing and crankiness ensued. So when I look at this dish, all I can see is the missing fairy floss. Which is a shame because it tasted delicious, perhaps a little too sweet when I drowned it in syrup, but perfect with just a drizzle of the syrup on top. I had to substitute the gelatine leaves for powdered gelatine, but the pannacotta still had a good wobble to it. You can add gelatine to the syrup to set the syrup as the original recipe does, but I was happy to leave it as a liquid.
The quinces were baked for about 4-5 hours in a beautifully aromatic spiced sugar syrup mixture. My whole house was filled with the scent of cinnamon, vanilla and star anise. I wouldn't recommend starting this recipe too late in the evening, as you will find yourself impatiently checking the oven to see if your quince have turned red yet so you can take them out and go to bed. But definitely start it the day before you plan to serve it, to give it a chance to chill overnight. I adapted it from a Gourmet Traveller recipe I've had my eye on, in the hopes that I would change it up a bit with the presentation and the pashmak. But things didn't quite go to plan so it's very similar to the original. To be honest it doesn't really need any of the extra bits, just the panna cotta, with it's intense honey flavour, and the lovely spiced quince are all you need for a great dessert. Even if you don't make the pannacotta, this is my favourite way to cook quince. And the leftover sugar syrup is so nice that it would be a shame to throw it away, hopefully I'll be able to use it for another sweet treat :) (EDIT: Check out what I used it for here)
Slow Baked Spiced Quince & Honey Panna Cotta
(adapted from this Gourmet Traveller recipe)
500g caster sugar
500ml water
2 quince, peeled cored and quartered, reserve trimmings
2 cinnamon quills
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 black peppercorns
4-5 star anise
1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatine
400ml pouring cream
100ml milk
80ml honey
30g caster sugar
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Bring water and 500g sugar to a gentle boil in a casserole pot, stirring until the sugar dissolve. Simmer until a light syrup forms (about 10 mins) and then add quinces, trimmings and all the spices. Cover pot and bake in oven until quince are tender and have turned a rosy red, about 4 hours. Cool, then refrigerate until chilled, 2-3 hours or overnight.
Place cream, milk, honey and sugar in a medium saucepan and gently bring to the boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and carefully stir in gelatine until it dissolve. Strain mixture and pour into 4-5 glasses or pannacotta mould. Refrigerate until set, about 4-5 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, cut quince into wedges and place over panna cotta. Strain quince syrup and drizzle some over the top of the quince. Don't throw away the left over syrup! It can be used for other recipes - Check out these Quince Sherbert Marshmallows ;) Optional: top off with some vanilla pashmak.
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  1. lol at the scary gaga! Did you use DSLR for these shots. The pictures are gorgeous! Lovely red with the silky white pannacotta. YUM!

  2. Gorgeous photos Steph. And contrary to what you think, I can def tell the difference with the equipment :P

    Honestly I don't think it needs the pashmak. I'd happily gobble this down as is :)

  3. Yuummmm these looks so gorgeous! I can imagine the wobbliness hee hee

  4. Quince! I miss such deep red color of quinces. And pairing it with panna cotta is perfect.

    And don't be too hard on yourself. I think you are a wonderful baker. :) I overbaked my quince yesterday (it kinda exploded!). Ha!

  5. I've never cooked quinces before, I should really give it a go one day. I think this dessert looks just perfect, and I really think that the Persian fairy floss would be too much, it looks very elegant at the moment

  6. Beautiful pictures! The entire dish (or cup, rather) looks heavenly...
    I had never even heard of quinces! Thanks for the education =)

  7. Absolutely beautiful. And the flavour combination sounds incredible - love the little sparkle of black pepper in there with the fruit. I haven't tried quince (yet - now I really want to) but when I get my hands on some I'm making this. Thank you!

  8. Steph. I think we should lobby for you to buy an SLR. These photos are fantastic. The depth of colour is wonderful.

    I love quinces. The Lebanese have a variety that can be eaten raw after some minor bletting. It's wonderful. Great recipe and a nice textural mix between the panna cotta and the quince.


  9. this looks beautiful...I love light and fruity desserts :)

  10. Stunning! Great pics Steph and the recipe sounds inspired. I love how versatile you are - funky one day and classy the next.

  11. ooh this is so pretty steph =D Next time we meet, can you make me some? =p Woot to DSLR

  12. Elegant dessert indeed! Quinces are the ugly duckings of the fruit world for sure. I've never cooked with them myself, but a friend stewed some up to serve with pork the other day and it went beautifully.

  13. That looks really good and it is nice to see the quince being brought back into modern cooking.

  14. Gorgeous photos and a similarly elegant and delicious looking dessert!


  15. This a very nice looking pannacottas. The contrast of the pick quince on top is excellent. Your photos look great too. Well done.

  16. Oh wow this looks an amazing panacotta, it looks so light and creamy!! Mmm.

  17. You've inspired me. I have a pile of quinces sitting here that I must do something with, so I will poach them as per your recipe...

  18. Gorgeous photos Steph! These look beautiful. Who needs Persian fairy floss anyway?! ;)

  19. Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - LOL well some people suck. Haha yes I did, but first thing in the morning so I was half asleep! Thanks!

    Karen @ Citrus and Candy - ;) Hehe good to know it's worth the money someone else paid for it haha!

    FFichiban - Hehehe wobble wobble...

    Anh - I was so glad it came out so red, I've cooked it before and it's only gone pink, it's not the same! Haha thats pretty impressive you got it to explode!

    Maria@TheGourmetChallenge - You should, they are so great! Aw thanks :)

    Clare @ Mrs Multitasker - Oh you have to try them sometime! I only discovered them not too long ago and I'm so glad I did!

    Patty - Quince has such a great flavour, you should really try it sometime! Haha I think that might be flecks of vanilla but same diff ;)

    Fouad @ The Food Blog - Aww thanks! :D Still trying to figure out how to use the thing haha. Love the sound of the lebanese variety, will have to try it sometime!

    M. - Same here! Fruity desserts over heavy desserts anyday ;)

    chocolatesuze - LOL! Perrrrfect ;)

    Trissa - Thank you! Hehe I give all the credit to GT.

    maninas - Thanks!

    linda - Haha only if you promise to post your onion pannacotta recipe sometime!

    Conor @ HoldtheBeef - Thanks! Agreed, just need to cook the crap out of them to turn them into swans ;) Mmm that sounds delicious!

    Weekend Carnivore - More quince for everyone!

    The Ninja - Heheh thanks :D

    Forager - Thanks so much!

    Mark @ Cafe Campana - Thanks! I wish I had made them in moulds so I could turn them out on to a plate and wobble them hehe

    Natalie... - Thanks! It was very creamy indeed :D

    Reemski - Oh I hope they turned out okay! Mine took forever to cook using the temp listed in the GT recipe so I adjusted it for my recipe

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - Hehe yeh, screw the fairy floss! Thanks!

  20. I am definitely going to try this as I love quinces and this recipe looks wonderful for entertaining. I come from South Africa and quinces had become an old fashioned fruit, but I remember my mom doing them and how I loved the stewed version as well.

  21. Anonymous - Good luck, it's such a great recipe! I love quinces, they are starting to get used everywhere in Sydney!

  22. I'm so glad I searched for this recipe and found it! I the photo on Pinterest but the link was completely wrong. I fixed it for future pinnings on my end. I'm plucking quince off my tree right now and getting busy.


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