I tried the apple-quince tart again last weekend, using what I learned from the previous attempt. This time I sliced quince and apples thinner and was much more careful about how I placed the fruit on the tart — instead of arranging the apples and then haphazardly dropping the quince on top, I alternated apple, apple, quince to evenly disperse the pieces.
The result was a lot more beautiful, as the picture above illustrates. A few flaws, like the piece of pie shape (I am not very good at rolling dough into circles and cutting a circle out of the dough would have let to a lot scrap), and failure of the quince to turn the deep red that I was hoping for.
As before, the crust was wonderful. The thinner apples cooked more thoroughly and make a wonderful pairing with poached quince.
Quince Caramel and Bénard Cells
The sugar syrup in which I cooked the quince went to good use in Pim’s quince caramels. Oddly, Pim’s recipe calls for salted butter, which leaves a far amount of uncertainty in the salt content. If that bothers you, here are the proportions I used:
1 1/4 cups quince-infused syrup (follow Pim’s directions to make this)
3 oz. unsalted butter
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. fleur de sel
To make the caramels, follow Pim’s instructions. Add the salt after the final mixture reaches the target temperature, turn off the heat as directed, and carefully stir to incorporate the salt (the caramel is very, very hot). I added the salt at the end to prevent the fleur de sel grains from dissolving.
The picture below is the quince-infused syrup just before it started boiling.
The process of making the caramel revealed some subtle beauty in heated sugar syrups. As the syrup heated, bright lines formed in the syrup. I’m guessing that fluid circulation is the cause and that I was seeing something like Bénard Cells. Here’s what is probably happening: the liquid at the bottom of the pan is receiving the most heat from the burner. As its temperature rises, the fluid becomes less dense, causing it to rise. But you can’t have all of the fluid rising — some of it needs to be sinking to replace the rising fluid (unless you have a stable inversion, something that is not likely in a saucepan). The bright lines are the result of the gradients in temperature, density and refractive index between the rising and falling fluids. The varying refractive index across the cells appears as lines, or Schlieren.
The patterns are quite captivating (to me anyway), but hard to photograph without additional equipment like a fan or lens purge device to keep water vapor from condensing on the camera lens. Perhaps next time I make the caramels (or another quince-syrup inspired confection, like quince-caramel sauce, or some kind of pudding) I can rig up something to capture the beauty in the syrup.
Random link from the archive: Smoked Eggplant