Every year for Valentines Day I try to make something rare and different for my wife (and the kids). It usually involves chocolate…so this year I am watching the television and a commercial advising you to check your yarbles (family jewels) for testicular cancer for Valentines Day comes on (which is something all men should do) – I have a flash back to a conversation I had with Jacques Torres a few years ago. He was telling me about something he had done while at Le Cirque 2000 (you will see the connection in a second). He had dipped candied kumquats (yes, the fruit called the funniest fruit of all by George Carlin) in dark chocolate. Ok…all kidding aside , I give credit to Jacque Torres for the idea of chocolate covered candied kumquats, he is a fantastic chocolatier and I have bought more than my fair share of Valentines Day treats at his store in Manhattan, but this time I am making them.
For those of you who do not know, kumquats are a diminutive citrus fruit, sort of oval shaped and about the size of a walnut (about the size and shape of the family jewels…more or less). Many years ago I only saw them in Chinese restaurants, but now they are available fresh at most supermarkets during the citrus season which is in the winter. They are an interesting fruit in that the sweetness is found in the rind and the flesh inside is quite sour. They are supposed to be eaten whole and are terrific fresh, right off the tree (or out of the container), but candied the inside takes on a delicate jelled quality and the skin acquires a jewel like translucence.
This year the supermarkets are full of beautiful citrus fruit and the kumquats are no exception. To make this recipe first you have to candy the kumquats. This is very simple.
½ pt. kumquats
1 cup sugar
½ cup water.
Place the sugar and water in a sauce pan, bring the mixture to a boil. In the meantime, wash the kumquats and make a tiny hole in each one with the tip of a pairing knife or cut each in half (I prefer whole, they just take a bit longer to cook). Add the kumquats to the pot, return to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the kumquats for about 30 minutes or until the kumquats look translucent. Remove from the heat and let the kumquats cool in the syrup. Some recipes out there call for reducing the syrup further, but we are going to dip these in chocolate and not store them making this step unnecessary. I have found that doing this part the day before makes the whole process less burdensome and the extra time in the syrup does not hurt them one bit.
Once the kumquats are cooled, remove them from the syrup, blot them dry on a paper towel and let them chill slightly in the refrigerator. This will help the chocolate make a nice coating on the kumquats.
I used 60% Cacao chocolate to dip the candied kumquats into. Tempering chocolate has a reputation for being a difficult thing to master, but I have a simple procedure that has not failed me yet. Simply place the chocolate in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate melts. Once the chocolate is completely melted add a few more bits of chocolate to the melted chocolate off the heat and stir until the added chocolate has melted. Once the chocolate is melted, let it cool until it is about the same temperature as your fingers (when you can no longer feel a difference between the temperature of your fingers and the chocolate), dip the kumquats into the chocolate and place them on a sheet pan covered with parchment or wax paper and place them in the refrigerator to set.
That’s it, it is that simple. A few tools help this process…tweezers or dental instruments to hold the kumquats while dipping them in the chocolate make the job much easier. If you don’t like the seeds (which are edible), you can cut the kumquats in half, remove the seeds and then candy them. I like the look of whole chocolate covered candied kumquats, but they are good both ways. These are surprising easy to do and I doubt you will find something like this in any store. Enjoy!