The downside to this boozy fruit pie is it is highly unlikely I will be able to recreate it with ingredients from my cupboard. But because of a wonderful set of circumstances – and a kind set of friends – I happened to have a jar of bourbon peaches and bourbon-vanilla cherries in addition to some bourbon-soaked quince I made last year. With an extra pie crust in my freezer, this recipe pretty much made itself.
The thing about quince (a fall fruit kind of like a pear) is that even after soaking in jars of whiskey in my cupboard for two months, it still needed some time boiling in a pot to soften up. This fruit has obviously developed defenses against being the first fruit one chooses to cook with. But you know what, quince? It’s a long weekend. I have time.
I strained out the whiskey from the quince for later drinking. I then mixed 4 cups water, a ¼ cup honey, a half cup sugar, and half a vanilla bean and brought to a boil, stirring to dissolve the ingredients. I threw in the quince and let that simmer with the lid on for 40 minutes. For anyone counting, that’s two months plus 40 more minutes to get that quince pie-ready. But the nice part is after you strain out the quince, you can reduce the liquid even further to make a syrup to use for cocktails or pour in sparkling wine. If anyone is concerned that the quince will be too bourbony – I mean, why would that be a concern, but just in case – the alcohol seems to mostly cook out.
And here’s where I veer into my grandma’s inexact measurements. I probably had 2 to 3 full quinces cut into pieces that had soaked in the whiskey jars, then cooked in the liquid. I put them in a bowl, squeezed in a little lemon juice, gave it a dash of cinnamon, grated some nutmeg over it, threw in a few spoonfuls of brown sugar, stirred, and put it in a pie pan. It wasn’t quite enough filling. I cut up 5-6 of the bourbon peach halves to add an extra layer, then sprinkled the bourbon-vanilla cherries over the top. Then, why not, I put on some pats of butter – my grandma did that to pies and everything she did turned out tasty.
An easy go-to when I have a fruit pie and no top crust is to add a crumble. For that I used this recipe, but substituted hazelnuts since that’s what I happened to have:
Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and pecans in a large bowl until well combined. Add in the pieces of butter and use your hands to squeeze and combine until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles wet sand.
I pre-baked the pie crust at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, then filled and covered the pie in a crumble layer and baked at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until the top was a golden brown and the insides bubbling.
This thrown-together thing actually worked. The filling merged well with a nice syrup forming around the fruit. The vanilla goes nice with the nutty top. It’s not very sweet, which I like in a fruit pie. And then every once in a while you get a little cherry pow. It may also not be that hard to recreate – substitute apple or pears (which don’t need the extra cooking time) for the quince and throw some bourbon on top of the fruit if it hasn’t been soaking in it.