Quince Paste: Ate de Membrillo
While store-bought ate keeps longer in the refrigerator, the homemade version is far superior. It can be served with a wide variety of cheeses, from plain cream cheese to goat cheese or fresh mozzarella, and with harder cheeses such as Spanish manchego. This ate keeps about a month in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Like many other confections, ate should not be made on humid days, when the moisture in the air makes a higher temperature necessary for sweets to set.
- 2 pounds quince
- 2 1/2 cups sugar, or as needed
Place the quince on a steamer rack in a large pot and steam until tender. Allow to cool, then peel, cut into quarters and remove the cores.
Place the quince in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If a bit of water is necessary to do this, do not add more than ¼ cup.
Strain the puree and measure it using a measuring cup. Place the puree in a saucepan with an equal measurement of sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about a half hour or until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Pour the ate into a lightly oiled container, such as a square baking dish. Smooth the top and allow the ate to cool at room temperature.
When cool, cover the ate with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set. (This may take several hours.)
When set, run a knife around the sides of the baking dish and invert it onto a sheet of wax paper, wrap it well and then wrap in a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrapped like this, it will keep 1 month in the refrigerator.
To serve: Slice ate and serve with the cheese of your choice. In Mexico, panela, a mild white cheese, is frequently served with ate as a dessert or snack. Ate can also be served on toothpicks with salami slices for a cocktail snack, or melted over roast pork for a glaze.