Quince Caramels – Caramels aux Coings

A unique kind of caramel. I wanted to do it for years and then finally had extra quince in 2012. Here is the result of a bunch of tweaking.

Watch out. The active time is short, but it took the better part of 3 hours to finish this once because I made too big of a batch (3 pounds) and I don’t have a pot big enough to

  • 2 pound quince (4 should be about right; pick the most fragrant)
  • 3 C of water
  • 6C sugar (600g)
  • 1 stick (8oz) of salted butter (240g), at room temperature
  • a candy or deep-fry thermometer*
  • knife
  • peeler
  • cutting board
  • parchment paper
  • wax paper
  • small jelly roll pan
  • a book or small box to box in the caramel (read on to understand)
  • 5 quart non-reactive saucepan with high edges and  – unless you do want to get burned by hot syrup (do not use a dutch oven, it will generate some funky business)
  1. Mix the water and sugar together and cook at high heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Put next to where you will be chopping the fruit
  2. Peel and slice the fruit, dropping the fruit in the simple syrup. I have also put them into a bowl of water, but I like the idea of sticking them straight into the syrup to skip cleaning a bowl. (Putting them in the syrup or water keeps the fruit from oxidizing.) Take care when slicing the fruit, since you will want to use the fruit after either in yogurt or in a crisp. Honestly, you don’t want to chuck that away.
  3. Set the pot in the back part of the stove and bring to a simmer until the fruit are soft (30 min?) and the fruit is pink-redish. It’s in the back since you will presumably want to cook something else while it does it’s thing. Or maybe it is the kid in the class that tries to avoid work by sitting in the back of the class. Who knows?
  4. Turn off heat and let it hang out for a few hours to let the quince impart as much flavor as possible.
  5. Fish out the fruit from the syrup and put the pot on high heat.
  6. Stick candy thermometer in and wait until it gets to 240-250F. It will begin to bubble so I have had to keep the temperature down so it does not make a huge mess. This is why it is important not to do a huge batch. 3 pounds of fruit = not big enough container = low burner setting = longer time to cook, over an hour with a larger batch. At this point, if you have butter that is frozen (as it usually is for me), stick it near the burner to help bring it to room temp faster, rotating every few minutes to get it soft.
  7. Caution with this step! Add the butter slowly. I put it in with the heat going, but if it bubbles and splatters with the first small amount of butter, take it off the heat and let it sit a minute before putting it back on.
  8. Do this step while the next step is going. Line your sheet tray with parchment paper (which better handles the heat) and set on a level surface. Get a box or book ready to make a makeshift wall to keep the caramels thick, if possible.
  9. Put the pot back on to high heat until it hits 260F, the “hard ball” stage. Watch the level of heat since it may bubble too high, especially if you put it in a pot that is reactive like a Le Cruset dutch oven (which leads to an odd gray/black film bubbling up).
  10. Pour into the sheet tray. I found that when I tripled the amount it filled a regular sized sheet tray just fine. Watch out for it spitting and bubbling. This is very hot stuff at this point.
  11. Sit out to cool for a while (at least an hour). I let mine cool overnight.
  12. Pour very hot water into a tall cup to wash off your knife if need be.
  13. Now cut the caramels into small squares. I have heard that caramels are a PITA to cut, but I found that slowly cutting the caramels leads to easier results. “Wash” the knife down every once in a while if it starts sticking all over the place. The original recipe says to use a  “slow sawing motion” but I found slow and easy was, well, easiest.
  14. Wrap the caramels. I like dark wax paper since it looks rustic, but do what you will. I know you are going to anyway.
Yield: undetermined at this point.

*do not use an electric insta-read thermometer. Pulling the therm’ in and out is a right pain in the tuchus and leads to burns at the end since it gets to 250° and a little bit easily burns you. Oh, but this is what my “friend” says. I haven’t burned myself <puts hand behind back>.

this is adapted from http://chezpim.com/bake/quince-caramel


Dec 2012:

used up another 3 pounds of the quince purchased in early Nov (this stuff lasts forever it seems).

3 pounds fruit yielded 2.7 pounds of flesh. 9C of water covered it, which resulted in exactly 10C of syrup.

This was much better than the previous round of it. I think I did not bring it to 260° last time, which made it more buttery in texture and taste than this time.

Nov 2013

Did with less butter (forgot at first) and then added later. The result was very firm, but people liked the balance of sweet versus quince flavor.

Dec 2013

First round started at night, sat after a short cook overnight, then finished in the morning. The result was “too fruit forward”.

Second round was cooked for 40 min until red, then fruit pulled out. It was a rather fruity syrup, but not as red as the first round. I boiled the syrup and it quickly got to 245, I slowly added butter, then left it on med-low and went to line a baking pan with parchment paper. When I turned back, the caramel was going dark and the thermometer read 265-270. I pulled it off, let it cool for at least 20 min, then started cutting into slices. I didn’t want to try to cut hard candy. That turned out to be a good idea as some of it did turn to hard candy. It tastes nice, but is not a caramel in the strict sense of the word.

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