We live in a little village called Cotignac in Provence, whose name is said to derive from the French word for Quince. These beautiful fruits are used frequently in local cuisine and celebrated with their own village festival at the end of October. In case you cannot get hold of them you can replace them with firm and tart apples or/and pears. You will need some individual pie tins to make these or you could also make one large pie to cut up after.
To make 4 tarts:
- one roll of all butter puff pastry
- 3-4 quinces depending on size
- 150 g of brown sugar
- handful of pecan nuts
- 300 ml (10.6fl oz) of single cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 eggs yolks, scrambled
I suggest you make all the basic ingredients, i.e. the quince compote, roasted nuts and vanilla sauce before hand, then you have only a couple of simple jobs to complete while your guests are at the table.
First peel your quinces, this is a bit of a job as the skin is thick, then cut into small squares. Add to the pan with a small splash of water and 100g sugar. Simmer for about 30 minutes until soft. Taste to adjust the sugar, they are very sour, so you may well need to add a bit more to make it palatable (the roasted pecans will add some extra sweetness though, so don’t overdo it).
While the compote is cooking we will sugar roast the pecans and make the sauce. Crush your nuts with a rolling pin or just break them by hand. Add about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar to a pan and heat up. Survey very closely as the difference between molten and burnt sugar is only a couple of seconds and the latter is not nice. Once the sugar starts to melt and bubble turn the heat down a touch and add the nuts. Turn them all over to achieve and even sugar coating and roast gently for another few minutes. Set aside.
Pour 300 ml of cream into a pan with a vanilla pod and heat up gently. Add two scrambled egg yolks while constantly whisking. The sauce should start to thicken, please don’t let it boil as you will get cooked egg bits inside. Turn the heat off and scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod by going over the softened surface with a knife- this should leave you with lots of little black spots in your sauce. Turn off and cover to reheat gently just before serving desert.
Turn the oven on to 180 degrees Celsius, or 360°F.
Then take the puff pastry out of the fridge and leave for 10 minutes to soften. Unroll on it’s greaseproof paper on a flat surface.
Find a glass or bowl that is slightly larger than your pie tin and press down hard to stencil out the right diameter of pastry. Grease your pie tins with a little butter and then press the pastry into the form, making sure the sides are even and stable to take the fruit filling later.
Cut up the greaseproof paper from the pastry to line the pies and weigh down with some baking beans. Blind bake for 10 minutes to ensure a super flaky result. Then fill the pie casings with the fruit filling and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, you want a nicely puffed up and light brown pastry edge.
Carefully remove them from their pastry cases and add to a plate. Crumble over the nuts and add a nice dollop of hot vanilla sauce (or put a jug on the table for everyone to serve themselves). Would also work very nicely with Vanilla ice cream as an alternative.
We served this with our moreish gastronomic Rosé, Etoile, which has these stunning, concentrated stone fruit flavours, which work so well with all sorts of puddings. Since we’re often a little unsure which wine to serve with deserts, I would urge you to have a go with this lovely cuvée.