Every fall, a friend of the family brings over about 20 pounds of unwanted quinces, so I've gotten a lot of practice with creative quince use. As annoying as they can be to clean and chop, the payoff for me is their pretty pink color when they've been cooked long enough and these kolacky make a nice frame for the colorful filling. The dough for these isn't too sweet, so its a nice balance to other more sugary and buttery items on the Christmas dessert table. —VanessaS
Test Kitchen Notes
VanessaS's quince kolacky filling is a great introduction to cooking quince. The simmering spiced quince fills the house with a gorgeous aroma, and it magically transforms from a pale cream color to a deep salmon pink color as it cooks. In texture, it becomes like a slightly chunky applesauce. The spices complement the floral fruit flavor of the quince, but do not over power it. Mine was quite tart, so I stirred in a little extra sugar. I was thrilled to have about 2 cups left over after filling my kolacky. My dough was a bit dry, so I added a little water. Next time I will hold back some flour, and add it if needed. I oiled the bottom of my shot glass frequently to prevent sticking when making the depressions for the quince filling. A 20-minute stint in the oven produced a yummy, mildly-spiced sweet roll with a deliciously tart and fragrant fruit topping—my first, but not last, homemade kolacky! —hardlikearmour
about 2 dozen
green cardamom pods, crushed
(heaping) minced ginger
vanilla bean, split open and scraped with pod reserved
quince pieces, peeled and cored (about 1/2 to 1/3 inch chunks). The number of quinces needed to get two pounds of pieces will vary depending on size.
Combine all filling ingredients in a medium saucepot. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer, covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove lid, turn heat to medium, and keep at a healthy simmer for about 2 hours, until quinces turn salmon pink and are breaking down and thickened. Stir occasinally while simmering. Pick out the spice debris and let cool,
Meanwhile, start the dough. Combine the cup of lukewarm milk, butter, and one egg in a medium bowl, whisking to mix. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the cinnamon, yeast, salt, sugar and flour. Start running the mixer on low speed so the dry ingredients blend and add the wet ingredients. Mix on low until the dough comes together and all the little bits on the side of the mixer bowl are picked up, then increase the speed to medium and mix for one minute. Place dough ball in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment and mix one egg with 2 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Pull off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll them into a smooth ball. Place mini dough balls on the baking sheet and brush with the egg mixture. Set aside to rest for a half hour.
Take a shot glass that's about an inch across and press the bottom down firmly onto the dough balls. You really want to squash them and have a little dough frame pop up around the bottom of the glass. Dipping the glass in water helps keep it from sticking. Fill each indentation with a heaping teaspoon of quince filling and bake for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Cool and dust with powdered sugar.