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Turkish Quince Dessert; Ayva Tatlisi

By Ozlem Warren - http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/

Ozlem: 'Quince is delicious when it’s ripe and you can enjoy eating raw, though it can also be quite tough to tackle. The hard, tangy and pale quince becomes soft, fragrant in a beautiful dark rosy pink color when it is cooked; quite a transformation for this humble fruit (...) I love the fruity desserts in Turkish cuisine; they are fragrant and packed with flavour'

Serves: 4

  • 2 medium size quinces
  • 150gr/ ¾ cup sugar (or 20 – 30 gr more, if you prefer sweeter)
  • 6 cloves
  • 16oz./2 cups water
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. juice of lemon
  • 30ml/ 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • Turkish thick cream, Kaymak, or clotted cream to serve
  • Crushed pistachio nuts or walnuts to serve

Wash and cut the quinces in half, from top to bottom. Scoop out the core and keep the seeds, save the seeds aside. Peel the skin of the quince halves and set them aside too. Rub the peeled quince halves with the lemon juice; that will help quince not to go dark in colour.

Spread the peels of quince as a layer in a heavy pan, wide enough to have 4 quince halves in one layer. Place the quince halves on top, in a way that the hollow side faces upwards. Spread the sugar evenly over the halves and stir in the reserved quince seeds, cloves and the water.

Bring the pan to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer gently for about 40 minutes. Check the quinces and flip the halves gently to the other side. The quinces will start turning to a rosy, darkish pink color and the syrup will start to thicken and caramelized. Stir in the ground cinnamon, cover and cook on low heat for another 40 minutes or until the fruit is cooked (you may need a little more or less cooking time depending on the size of the quince), turn the heat off. You will now get a richer dark rosy pink color and some caramelisation.

Leave the cooked quinces cool in the pan. The syrup will thicken even more and the color will go darker, thanks to the seeds acting as a natural thickener. Once cool, place the quince halves on a serving plate, with a dollop of clotted cream or even better, Turkish kaymak, the thick cream of the water buffalos over the top. You can sprinkle some crushed pistachio or walnuts over and serve.