Dulce de membrillo or Carne de membrillo in Spanish, marmelada in Portuguese, codonyat in Catalan, cotognata in Italian, membrilyo in Tagalog is a sweet spread or a dessert (quince paste, quince jelly, quince candy or quince meat).
Traditionally and predominantly from Portugal, Italy (exported when the South of Italy was part of the Kingdom of Aragón) and Spain, dulce de membrillo is a firm, sticky, sweet reddish hard paste made of the quince (Cydonia oblonga) fruit. Dulce de membrillo is also very popular in America, in Brazil (as marmelada), Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Uruguay, and in Israel, as a typical Sephardi dish.
Dulce de membrillo is made of quince fruit, sugar and water, cooked over a slow fire. It is sweet and mildly tart, and similar in consistency, flavour and use to guava cheese or guava paste. It is sold in squares or blocks, then cut into thin slices and spread over toasted bread or sandwiches, plain or with cheese, often served for breakfast or as a snack, with Manchego cheese or Mató cheese. It is very often used to stuff pastries. Guava Cheese, although it contains no quince fruit, is also called membrilyo in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony, where it forms a part of the traditional nochebuena array on Christmas Eve.
- 2-3 quince
- juice of ½ lemon
- approximately 2 cups of sugar
- pinch of salt
- Peel and core the quince. Cut into large wedges.
- Place fruit in a pot and cover with water. Add lemon juice.
- Bring water to a boil, and cook fruit until very soft. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Process fruit in a food processor or blender until smooth, like applesauce.
- Measure fruit - you should have around 2 cups - and place in a heavy-bottomed pot. Measure ¾ of that amount in sugar (so if you have 2 cups, add 1½ cups sugar), and stir sugar into the fruit.
- Bring sugar and fruit to a low boil and simmer, stirring frequently, on low heat.
- Cook slowly, keeping the mixture barely at a boil and stirring often to prevent burning, until mixture thickens.
- Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is a thick paste that stays together in a ball. The mixture should seem almost dry, and stretchy. The fruit will change colour and become bright a orange-red.
- Pour into a lightly oiled dish and let cool. Slice when firm. Fruit paste will keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.