This apple paste or dulce de manzana is a typical recipe from the northern part of Spain, especially Asturias. This is a humid, lusciously green apple-growing region, best known for its delicious cider, brewed all over the place by large and small apple growers. It is also known for its strong and amazing blue cheeses, like Cabrales. This apple paste is similar to the famous quince paste, dulce de membrillo, a true staple food in many Spanish regions (I’m sure you’d be treated to this dulce in the Spanish villas in the region of Castilla La Mancha…). Similarly apple paste and strong cheeses go together like a horse and a carriage. Here I have paired dulce de manzana with a hearty Manchego cheese. An easy tapa not to be missed.
Here follows the recipe for the apple paste. No, I won’t give you the recipe for Manchego cheese, it’s a state secret.
- 1.3 pound (600g) apples (some tangy variety, like Reinette)
- 1 lemon
- 0.4 cup apple cider (100g)
- 1 pound sugar (500g)
- Peel the lemon and get rid of as much pith as you can. cut in half and extract the pips.
- Peel and core the apples. cut in large chunks and sprinkle with some of the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Add the cider and sugar, stir to mix. Process the mixture in a food processor or blender till smooth.
- Put the pureed fruit in a heavy saucepan. Turn on the heat to low and simmer 35-40 minutes uncovered, stirring often.
- When the paste is ready, the pureé will acquire a deep redish golden color. To test for doneness, take a teaspoonful of the mixture and drop it on a plate. Wait until it's cold. If the drop is firm enough to the touch and detaches from the plate in one piece when pushed with your finger (a lot more solid than jam consistency), then it's done. If the pureé is too soft, just proceed with the simmering 2-5 minutes longer or as long as needed.
- When ready, pour the paste into a shallow container large or small enough to form it into the shape of a thin ingot (the thickness of the portion in the photos is the final thickness) and let it cool completely. I recommend you use a lidded container, as the paste tends to dry quite a bit. Well, unless you intend to eat it all in one go. You can also use a loaf pan lined with plastic so that you can unmold it on a plate. But always keep it covered if you're not going to finish it right away.
- Slice the cheese and slice pieces of the apple paste of similar size. Top the cheese with the dulce de manzana and enjoy!
It is essential to use tangy apples in order to offset the sweetness of all the sugar needed for the pureé to gel.
And let me add a last tip: dulce de manzana goes really well with all kinds of meat or liver terrines and foie…