Dulce de membrillo is a sweet, sticky firm jelly made from the pulp of the quince fruit. It is a beloved sweet treat in Argentina that is often served with cheese and utilized in many delicious recipes. One of the most traditional is the "pastelitos (mini pastries) de dulce de membrillo". Sometimes called pastelitos de mil hojas (aka, mille feuille). A decadent pastry filled with the sweet notes of the quince fruit paste. Try it yourself at home. You won't be disappointed!
For the pastry (can substitute with pre-made filo dough):
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (can substitute with all purpose gluten-free flour)
10 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup ice water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
4-5 ounces of membrillo/quince paste, homemade or store bought
For the syrup (optional):
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional garnish: powdered or granulated sugar and cinnamon
Sift together all dry ingredients and pulse in the food processor, 1-2 pulses to distribute evenly. Add butter and pulse together until butter flakes into pea-size pieces. Add egg yolk and lemon juice and pulse to blend. Add ice water gradually until just combined.
Turn out dough and knead a few times to form a smooth mass, 3-4 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a square about 16 x 16 inches. Brush it evenly with melted butter and sprinkle with light dusting of flour. Smooth the flour over the surface of the dough until the flour absorbs the butter. Fold the dough in half to form a rectangle (8 x 16). Butter and flour the dough again and bring the short ends of the dough together to create a square (8 x 8). Repeat two more times to form a final square 4 x 4 inches. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes until ready to use.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to a 15-inch square, using a small knife or pastry wheel to trim. Measure and cut into 36 squares. Place about 1 teaspoon of membrillo in the center of each of 18 squares. Lightly moisten the dough around the filling with cold water. Pair the filled squares with the remaining squares to form individual 8-point stars, pressing the dough around the filling to secure it. Pinch the stars into the flowerlike shapes.
To make the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil without stirring until the syrup reaches a temperature of 230° on candy thermometer or until a bit dropped into ice water immediately forms a thread. Remove from pan and stir in vanilla. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
In a deep fryer or heavy pot (3 1/2-4 quarts wide), heat oil to 375 degrees. Carefully add the pastelitos to the oil, 2-3 at a time and fry until golden about 2-3 minutes, turning once.
Remove from oil and drain directly on cooling rack or on paper towels. Dip them in the warm syrup or sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Makes 18 pastelitos.
Please share your favorite version of dulce de membrillo below.
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