Dulce de Membrillo was one of the many bizarre food products I had the pleasure of meeting in Argentina. This gelatinous fruit byproduct is an ubiquitous member of the distinguished list of classically Argentine ingredients. It can be found as the filling in deep fried pastelito pastries, or served with a mild cheese as a dessert.
You wouldn’t know by looking at it, that it is a jelly made from quince, a sour, hard pear-like fruit that is inedible unless cooked for several hours. The fruits are used to create these yellow and red blocks, which are easy to find in any local grocery store. Although I had always enjoyed dulce de membrillo, I had never considered cooking with it, until the enlightening discovery of David Lebovtiz’s Easy Jam Tart recipe, which is also made with quince jam. DL’s Sweet Life in Paris chronicles an expat’s adventures in Parisian cooking and is the ultimate fantasy blog for Francophiles with a sweet tooth.
I elected to attempt his jam tart using dulce de membrillo and add my own addition – mascarpone – a mild cream cheese to serve as a creamy compliment and balance to the sugary jam. I was intrigued about DL’s use of cornmeal in the crust and thought this recipe could make for a great cooking adventure and culinary union of french patisserie and Argentine simplicity.
This recipe was perfection. The cornmeal gives the crust a crumbly, chewy cookie-like texture, with a bit of crunch to compliment the sticky, fruity jam. The creaminess and neutrality of the mascarpone binds the sensations together with its semi-solid velvety texture.
Serve it warm with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, or a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an indulgent dessert. It could make its debut for your next tea party or lazy weekend merienda with friends. The rustic flavors would greatly compliment a gourd full of infused yerba mate.
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of polenta or cornmeal
- 11 tablespoons of butter
- Dash of vanilla, salt and baking powder
- 200 g of mascarpone
- 25 ounces of dulce de membrillo
- In a mixing bowl, combine butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla and mix thoroughly until the consistency is uniform.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients – the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix thoroughly until you have a sticky dough. Roll dough into a large ball, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour until the dough is firm.
- Press the dough evenly onto a metal pie dish. You do not need to butter the surface, the crust will not stick to the pan. Save a portion of the dough for the top layer.
- The inside of the tart consists of three layers; two membrillo, with a thin layer of mascarpone in the middle. With the membrillo I recommend beating half of it into a spreadable substance for the bottom layer. Then spread the cheese on top of that. Cut the remaining block of membrillo into thin slices and spread these on top for the next layer.
- Using the remaining dough, roll and flatten small balls and place them on top to form a top crust. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 35 minutes at 350°. Enjoy.