Quince is one of my favorite heralds of autumn. I love keeping a bowlful of them on the dining room table—their fragrance fills the whole house. Figs, the last of which we're clearing off of our trees now, pair beautifully with the quince and in this dessert, they speak to this brief and happy time of the year when their seasons overlap.
Flaugnarde (or clafoutis if you prefer) offers a great backdrop for these two friends to strut their stuff. What I love about this dessert is that it's easy to prepare ahead of time and it's light enough to eat after a heavy holiday meal. And, best of all, it will fill the house with a heavenly scent that will put your dinner guests in a holiday mood straight away. Plus it's just fun to say "flaugnarde!"
Test Kitchen Notes
Poaching the quince was a fun project before the actual baking began. The aroma is heavenly. I think this is the best formula for poaching quinces that I have encountered. It was hard to stop snacking on them before placing them at the bottom of the ramekins. My flaugnardes actually took 50 minutes of baking time to finish, nice and golden brown and puffed up. Next time, I'd skip the sprinkling of cardamom sugar—it adds a matte finish over what is an attractive, glossy, surface, and the cardamom flavor is too assertive. I'd also try whole milk to lighten the custard. In all, a nice clafoutis with a sophisticated combination of quince and fig. A nice accompaniment would be vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise. —sftestcook
4 to 6
slices of fresh ginger
fresh, ripe figs sliced lengthwise into 6 slices
granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting baking dishes
Peel and core the quince. Slice each quince into 8 to 10 slices, lengthwise.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 quart of water with all of the poaching ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Slip quince slices into the warm spice bath and poach for about an hour or until the quince is easily pierced by the tip of a paring knife.
Remove poached quince from heat. You may prepare up to this point up to a week ahead—just store the quince in its syrup in an airtight container in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Butter 8 small, shallow baking dishes (the ones I used are 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep). Coat the bottoms and sides with granulated sugar. Note: you can make this in one large 9 by 13-inch pan instead, but add 10 to 15 minutes to the baking time.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and salt together. Continue beating and slowly sift in flour.
Once the flour is fully incorporated (with no lumps), beat in heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Arrange the quince slices on the bottom of each dish. Top with the fig slices arranged attractively.
Pour the custard batter over the fruit, evenly distributing it evenly amongst the 8 dishes. The fig slices will just peep over the top.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard has set.
Meanwhile combine coarse sugar with cardamom. When the flaugnardes come out of the oven, sprinkle the tops with this cardamom sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.