Sometimes referred to as quince jelly or quince paste, membrillo is a confection that is made with fruit as the primary ingredient. Originating in Spain, membrillo is a simple combination of fruit, sugar, and water that is cooked until the mixture forms a thick syrup. This fruit-based confectionery can then be formed into a paste that can easily be used as a spread, or into a gelled substance that can be cut into cubes or slices for use in various recipes.
Membrillo can be easily poured into jars while still warm. As the substance cools, a thick paste will result. This tasty paste can be used as a spread on bagel or some other form of toasted bread. Membrillo is also a great way to add a little extra flavor to the tops of shortbread cookies.
If the membrillo is placed in molds and allowed to gel, the confection becomes an ideal accompaniment to cheese. One presentation calls for placing a slice of the membrillo between two slices of cheese and securing the trio with a toothpick. This recipe can be prepared in a very short period of time, and can serve as a quick snack or as an ideal addition to a serving platter at a casual home party.
Another application of membrillo is a simple dessert involving a pie crust, whipped cream cheese, membrillo, and almonds. Using a prebaked pie crust or a graham cracker crust, spread the cream cheese as a bottom layer, then apply either a thick layer of membrillo, or chop the quince jelly into cubes and cover the cream cheese. Add shaved or slivered almonds as a topping. The finished product takes only minutes to prepare, and will provide a light dessert that is just different enough to be interesting.
Membrillo has gained in popularity around the world over the last few years. Commercial brands of the quince paste can be found in a number of high-end grocery stores, as well as some specialty food shops.