Here at The Ordinary, we’re extraordinarily crafty. Give us a few saltines, a length of ribbon and some double-sided sticky tape, and we’ll whip up a three-course dinner, a lovely appliquéd dinner jacket, and personalized individual place-settings for each guest, with their name in a never-been-seen-before font and a hazy picture of their childhood pet that looks as though it was taken in 1976! It’s true! This time of year, of course, we’re gifty-crafty! Crafty-gifty! And this year it’s all about the ball jar. We’re giving everybody on our list ball jars containing breakfast cereal made of tiny artisanally hand-crafted twinkies and oreos and bacon; nutella bacon hot fudge; and a tiny living treefrog in it’s own little ball-jar vivarium, with bacon. Do I sound bitter?!?! Why? It’s because I’m not crafty AT ALL!! I can’t effortlessly make things look pretty and appealing! I’m messy and vague. I can’t think of thoughtful little touches that make everything look stylie and perfect!! I wish I could, but I just can’t. That’s why I was so damn proud of myself when I made these little membrillo scallop shells.
I think they’re so pretty! They glow, and they have a lovely shape. And they’re made of membrillo, which is, of course, quince paste, which is delicious and fun to make and very historical and Spanish. I think they’d make nice gifts, you can eat them as is, or you could pair them, as is traditional, with some manchego cheese. Last year we put membrillo with manchego cheese in cracker cups. Remember
? And we used membrillo and some dulce de leche to make alfajores.
They slice quite nicely, so you don’t have to stuff the whole scallop in your mouth at once! Here’s how it all went down…I made a batch of membrillo, and I was trying to think which dish I should dry it in, when my eye happened upon my madeleine pan. So I poured the membrillo into that. Two quinces made just enough to fill a standard-sized madeleine pan. Then I put them in the oven to set for a few hours. I let them dry overnight before I tried to pry them out, then carefully cut around the edges with a sharp knife, and scooped them out. I trimmed the messy edges with a pizza wheel. Then I left them in the cupboard for a couple of days to dry even more. And that’s that!! Now if I was a genuinely crafty person, I’d think of some ingenious way to present them. Anyone? Anyone? Martha?
Here’s She’s Crafty, by the Beastie Boys.
Peel and core your quince. Put them in a pot with lemon peel and a vanilla bean. Add water just to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about half an hour, until the quince are soft. Drain. Puree the quince. weigh your quince puree, measure out the exact same amount of sugar. Put the quince puree and sugar in a sauce pan and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, till it’s thick and much darker. Pour or spoon the quince puree into your madeleine tin. Smooth the back a bit, and try to keep the edges tidy, but you’ll trim them later so don’t worry too much. Put this into an oven on very very low heat (125 or less) for about 2 hours. I wasn’t satisfied that my membrillo was dark enough, so after this two-hour period, I put the madeleine tin in a 400 degree oven, and immediately turned the heat off. Then I left them overnight. Generally, this step isn’t necessary if you cooked the membrillo long enough on the stove. Take out, let cool, carefully unmold.