Quince is a firm, aromatic, almost floral, fall fruit available from October to December. It looks like a cross between a pear and an apple.
To enjoy its full flavor, quince needs to be peeled of its sometimes fuzzy skin and cooked in a syrup until tender. Once cooked, it often turns a pale salmon color. Because of the high pectin content, quince is popular for jams and jellies, but there is more to this firm, almost astringent, fruit than jams. A free-form tart or galette shows off this intriguing fruit to its full beauty and deliciousness. Slice and arrange the poached fruit on a pastry and bake for a heavenly dessert.
The pastry is made super quick in the food processor and refrigerated for an hour or overnight. Cook the peeled quince in a sugar syrup until fork-tender. Cool and refrigerate to let it absorb all the sweet flavor. After the pastry is rolled out, it is spread with a goat cheese filling then topped with the sliced quince. Once baked, give a bit of eye-catching gloss to the galette by brushing the fruit with reserved quince syrup.
Quince and Goat Cheese Galette
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut up
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
4 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 star anise
2 or 3 large quince ( about 1 pound), peeled , quartered, and cored
1 cup (7-oz.) plain goat cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream or sour cream
2 tablespoons quince poaching syrup
1. To make Pastry: Combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt in a food processor bowl with the steel blade attached; pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Gradually add 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water through the feed tube and pulse just until it forms a ball. Remove pastry from the food processor Shape pastry into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. (Can be made ahead. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to one week. If frozen, thaw at room temperature.)
2. Bring the 4 cups water, 2 cups sugar, star anise, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over high heat; stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to low and add the quince; cover and cook 35 to 40 minutes, or until fork-tender. Refrigerate in the syrup until completely cooled. (Can be made ahead. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.)
3. To assemble galette: Slice quince into 1/4-inch slices and drain on paper towels. Pour 2 cups of the poaching syrup into a saucepan. Heat over high to boiling; boil untild reduce to 1/2 cup.
4. In a small bowl, stir goat cheese and heavy cream until smooth. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the poaching syrup; set aside.
5. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or foil. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle. Transfer pastry to prepared cookie sheet.
6. Spread the goat cheese on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge.
Arrange sliced quince in a circle atop the goat cheese. Fold edge of pastry over quince.
Brush the pastry and quince with some of the reduced poaching liquid. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a deep golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and immediately brush the fruit again with the poaching liquid. Allow galette to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a serving platter. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 to 10 servings.