This dessert defines an exact moment in the season – the end of autumn and the beginning of winter – and I prepare it as soon as the first quince are ripe.
For the red wine jus
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) red wine (see Note)
- 2 tsp stevia powder or 100 g (3½ oz) caster sugar
- ½ vanilla bean (see Note)
- 4 small cinnamon sticks
- 2 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 thin slices lemon
- 2 thin slices orange
For the winter fruit
- 2 quince, peeled, cored and quartered
- 2 cox’s orange pippin apples, peeled, cored and quartered
- 2 very ripe conference pears, peeled, cored and quartered
- 4 Agen prunes
- 1 handful frozen blackberries (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Freezing time overnight
For the red wine jus, in a saucepan over a high heat, bring the red wine to the boil for 2 minutes, which will remove much of the alcohol, then add 400 ml (14 fl oz) water and the remaining jus ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer.
For the winter fruit, poach the quince in the simmering jus for around 25 minutes (see Note). Add the apples and pears and simmer for 4 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature before adding the prunes and blackberries (if using). Strain one-third of the liquor and freeze overnight. Cover and chill the remaining liquid and fruit in the fridge.
To serve, scrape the frozen cooking liquor with a fork to create beautiful flakes of perfumed ice. Arrange the fruit, spices and cooking juices in a large dish or divide between four bowls. At the last moment, put a spoonful of the delicate flakes of spiced wine granita on top of your dessert. You could alternatively serve the granita in small cups from the freezer as a little pre-dessert.
• My general rule about wine when cooking is not to use an expensive bottle. Look for a deep, rich-coloured cabernet sauvignon or merlot. pinot noir is too light.
• I normally use vanilla purée, but here I want the vanilla to diffuse its flavour slowly so as to penetrate the quince, and the most effective means of achieving this is to use a bean.
• It is important that the liquid does not boil while poaching the fruits, as the intensity of the heat will damage their delicate flesh.
See more from Raymond Blanc in Royal Gardens On A Plate, on SBS and SBS On Demand.