Membrillo and Cashew Cream Parfait with Caramelized Rosemary Almonds

I created this parfait for the dessert course of The Garden of Alchemy Dinner hosted by The Muses in late October. I decided to use membrillo because my godson and his mother gave me quinces that they had picked in upstate New York. Turning quinces into membrillo feels akin to turning lead or straw into gold. You start with hard, lumpy green fruit with a tart taste and grainy texture and end up with a delicately floral sweet confection of an impossible ruby hue. It felt very appropriate to our alchemical theme! It is a time consuming process and if you do not have quinces and a lot of time the recipe will absolutely work with store bought membrillo.

The gradual transformation of Quince to Membrillo

This is a vegan and gluten free dessert. I truly prefer this to it’s counterpart that might use cream and gelatin. Cashew cream is both luxurious and nourishing. This sort of parfait is my absolute favorite dessert to serve at the end of a meal with many courses and more than 10 guests. They are beautiful and the plating is done in advance making the end of the meal less stressful for everyone in the kitchen.

photo by Erin K. Orr

I have accumulated a lot of cashew cream parfaits on this blog. So if you like this idea but are not sold on this particular flavor profile check out some of these versions…

Membrillo and Cashew Cream Parfaits with Caramelized Rosemary Almonds

For the Cashew Cream

Can be made up to a week in advance. Start it at least a day ahead!


  • 1 cup raw cashews (pieces are fine)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted


  1. Soak the cashews in water with a squeeze of lemon juice for at least 4 hours and preferably more like 8 hours.
  2. Drain the cashews and combine them with strained lemon juice,  maple syrup and melted coconut oil in a blender or food processor.  Process until totally smooth & creamy. This can happen in about 1 minute using a vitamix. With a Ninja you have to run the puree sequence 2 or 3 times. In a regular blender it takes frequent stopping and pushing and quite a few minutes of processing to get it totally smooth.
For the Membrillo

This method is from the excellent cookbook Cannelle et Vanille by Aran Goyoaga. This will make more than you need for the parfait. Eat the leftovers with cheese and crackers. It will keep for months, wrapped in plastic in the fridge.


  • water
  • lemon juice
  • 4 Quinces
  • sugar


  1. Fill a medium pot with water. Halve the lemon and juice it directly into the pot.
  2. Peel, core and quarter the quinces. Cut each quarter in half throwing them into the lemon water as you go to prevent browning. Bring the water to simmer over medium heat and cook until the quince is very tender (about 20 minutes). Drain in a colander and transfer the quince to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
  3. Weigh your quince puree and return it to the pot. Measure out an amount of sugar that is equal in weight to the puree and add it to the pot as well. Stir to combine and cook over medium low heat. Cook, stirring often until the quince has deep golden orange color (about an hour). While it cooks, place a small plate in your freezer. After an hour start testing the membrillo by putting a small spoonful on the frozen plate. It is done when the cooled membrillo is so thick that you could cut it into a slice and the color is a dark ruby pink. I pull out enough for the parfaits when it is shy of done because I like a slightly softer consistency for that and then cook the rest to completion.
  4. You can store the slightly softer membrillo is a jar for the parfait. Pour the more cooked membrillo into a baking tray lined with parchment paper and let it cool before wrapping it in plastic.
For the CaramElized Rosemary Almonds

These can be made a few days in advance as long as you trust yourself not to eat them all before you need them for the parfait


  • 2 cups marcona almonds (or you can use sliced blanched almonds. Just reduce the cooking time a bit)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Add the almonds and sugar to a dry medium skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spatula for 10-15 minutes or until the sugar melts, browns and coats the nuts.
  2. Turn the heat off and stir in the rosemary and salt
  3. Pour the candied nuts onto a sheet of tin foil and spread them out in to a single layer. Break up the clumps.
  4. When cool, transfer to an airtight container and store at room temp.
For Assembly

Ideally this is done gradually, a day in advance. You will need one 1/4 cup cordial glass for each guest.

  1. Put a tablespoon of cashew cream into the bottom of each glass. You can do this very carefully with a spoon or use a piping bag or use a ziplock bag with a tiny corner cut out of it. Put all of the glasses in the freezer for until the cream is firm (about an hour).
  2. Add a tablespoon of membrillo to each glass. You can do this very carefully with a spoon or use a piping bag or use a ziplock bag with a tiny corner cut out of it.
  3. Add another tablespoon of cashew cream on top of the membrillo and freeze again until that layer is firm.
  4. Add the final tablespoon of membrillo to each glass and return them to the freezer.
  5. 15-30 minutes before serving, take the parfaits out of the freezer and top them with the candied almonds.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Glenda says:

    Beautiful, delicious and nourishing…fabulous!

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