Quince Dessert (Ayva Tatlısı)

It's quince season, and I love that you can find them every where in Northern California. Quince is simply unknown to many Americans but for those of us from Europe/MidEast it's an indispensable part of Fall. Quince is an apple-pear like fruit with no sex appeal on paper; it is firm, really really firm (for example, you cannot just take a bite; you need a knife), and tart with a slight hint of sweetness! I like it raw the best, but it is also phenomenal in this highly classic dessert recipe. Quince dessert, my favorite, is a traditional Turkish dessert that uses a sugar based syrup. You can find them in most restaurants and patisseries in fall and winter all around Turkey.

Although ingredients and techniques-wise this is a simple recipe, it took me more than half a decade to post it because it is a hard one to perfect. You want the color red, without food coloring though, and the flesh to remain firm, after hours of cooking required for the color, yet not mushy.

Here it is: for 6 people

  • 3 quinces, pick ones that are yellow with minimal green spots., halved and cored
  • 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups sugar (~1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar per quince, depending how sweet you want it) and yes, that's a lot of sugar but this is a syrup based dessert so...moving on
  • one red apple peel, any kind
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup water (1/2 cup per quince)
  • 4-5 whole cloves

  • Fill a bowl with enough water to cover quinces when halved. Add lemon juice.
  • Peel and core the quinces and save the peel and seeds for coloring. Put halved quinces in lemony water to prevent browning.
  • When all are halved. Place them in a pot, cored part up, and add water, quince and apple skins, quince seeds. They will give the quince a nice red color. Add cloves as well.
  • On medium to high heat boil them for 10-15 minutes.
  • Then add sugar and cook for two hours on low heat. After an hour and a half flip the quinces over, cored part facing down.
  • Place quinces in a serving plate. Toss aside peels, seeds, and cloves with a slotted spoon and pour the syrup on quinces. Set aside to cool down.
  • Serve with kaymak, qaymak, clotted cream or, in the absence of all these, oh well, whipped cream, topped with chopped walnuts or pistachios.

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