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Falling For Quince & Apple Crisp

So, I had grand ambitions with this crisp. Time was not, however, on my side, so fancy platings and other fripperies got ditched so I could share this delicious, if not supremely elegant-looking, fall dessert. Though there are myriad baked fruit desserts that come topped or mixed with something or other–buckles, betties, cobblers, pandowdies–in my family it’s always been the fruit crisp. And, really, how could a nutty, buttery, crispy-sweet topping NOT beat soggy-bottomed cobbles or random bits of bread? Exactly. The major innovation here–at least for now–is the addition of quince to the apples.

applequince crispQuince, also known as Eve’s apple, are fascinating. The yellow fruit possesses the most spectacularly sweet and lovely fragrance, though their flesh is equally as astringent when raw–to the point of inedibility. All they’re good for in the raw, then, is scenting the kitchen. Cooked, however, they are divine. Sugar is a must, and after some time in the oven or on the stove, the fruit is imbued with its own fragrantly sweet essence. They’re often made into jam or cooked down further to make membrillo, a thick Spanish paste served with cheese.

I served this last Thanksgiving to rave reviews.  People won’t necessarily know what the difference is if you don’t tell them up front, but the WILL notice. The streusel topping comes, of course, from the Sainted Rose’s Pie & Pastry Bible.

quinceQuince & Apple Crisp

Streusel Topping:
1 c walnuts
1/3 c light brown sugar, packed
2 tbs granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c flour
8 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

2 quince
4-6 apples
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Prepare the streusel topping: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the nuts, sugars, salt and cinnamon until the nuts are coarsely chopped.  Add the flour, butter, and vanilla and process briefly to combine into small clumps. Remove to a bowl and chill in a refrigerator until needed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the fruit. Peel and core the apples and the quince. Slice the apples evenly into a large bowl with the lemon juice. Dice the quince and add to the apples. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together in a small bowl and toss into the apples.  You should have about 10 c total. Put the mixture into a 9″x9″ baking dish and cover with heavy duty foil. Bake 50 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Remove foil from pan. Stir the fruit gently, smoothing the top and topping it with the streusel, pinching it into slightly larger pieces as you go. Return to the oven and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes till the streusel is crisply set and the fruit beneath is tender and bubbling up at the edges.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Notes & Variations:
The butter MUST be pretty soft or the streusel will not come together.

Beranbaum, Rose Levy. The Pie and Pastry Bible. (New York: Scribner) 1998.

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