Monday, March 4, 2013

Candied Kumquat & Cream Cheese Tart



I recently made a bit of a gardening splurge purchase at Home Depot, bringing home a heavy kumquat bush weighed down with fruits. I wasn't familiar with the kumquat until I moved to California, as Oregon's climate is not very conducive to citrus-growing and as a result the varieties we had in the markets there tended to be very standard (lemons, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, etc). But when I was walking around my neighborhood in Los Angeles, I noticed a citrus bush with tiny fruits on them that looked like oblong oranges the size of grapes. Intrigued, and always down for a plant species-identification challenge, I scoured the internet until I came across the kumquat, and once I tried one, a kinship between myself and the fruit began.


Kumquats are like nature's Sour Patch candies, the peel of the kumquat is very thin and sweet (so much so that you don't remove the peel before eating, you just pop them in your mouth whole!) and the fleshy fruit inside is sour, but not in a bad way. Like sour as in the "sour candy" way, where it's just a tang and not too offensive because of the sweetness of the peel. Very forgivable, indeed. And, after viewing a few kumquat-related flower arrangements on Pinterest and falling in love with them, I decided I would use kumquats in the arrangements at my wedding. But then promptly found out from my florist that they can't be purchased in the state of Oregon. (Womp, womp.) Well, you all know how much I love DIY (and that my stubborn Greek side won't let me take no for an answer), so I decided to try and grow them myself. And thus was born my giant potted kumquat bush.


I was reallllly looking forward to using my first harvest from it; I contemplated making a marmalade but I didn't have quite enough kumquats for a near substantial amount of marmalade-making, so I decided to make a tart since I hadn't had one in a long while. I candied the kumquats, which made them much sweeter and took the sour flavor down to a more muted level, and made a cream cheese filling for the center (I have a strange obsession with the pairing of citrus and sweet cheese, and needed to fulfill my mind's pleading to smother the tart with it.) For the crust, I borrowed Smitten Kitchen's sweet tart shell recipe, and in the end I was blown away by how it all came together. I'm serious guys, the buttery crumbly crust, the smooth and creamy cheese filling, and the extra sweet and very mildly tart candied kumquats united in this perfect melange of flavors and textures. Plus, the tiny candied kumquats just give it a really elegant look. It will be difficult to make a marmalade with my next harvest instead of just making this again...



This recipe is for a 9-inch tart pan.

Ingredients:

Tart Crust

1 Egg
1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Plus 1 Tablespoon Butter, frozen
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Sweet Cream Cheese Filling

1 Egg Yolk
1 Cup Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Ricotta Cheese
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Orange Blossom Water (can substitute rose water)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Candied Kumquats

1 lb Kumquats, sliced 1/8 inch thick (use a very sharp little paring knife for this)
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract


First, begin making the crust. Grease and lightly flour a 9-inch tart pan and set it aside. Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed until blended. Turn the mixer off, remove the paddle attachment, and attach the dough hook attachement. Cut the butter into pea-sized pieces over the bowl. Once all the butter has been cut into the bowl, turn the mixer on medium speed and allow to run for 1 minute. Then add the egg and almond extract and mix until a smooth dough just forms, but do not continue beating past that point. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a well-floured plate. Cover it and place it in the freezer to relax for a half an hour.


Meanwhile, you can begin candying the kumquats. Heat the sugar, water, and vanilla extract over medium heat in a wide and shallow pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil, stirring every 3 minutes. Once it's boiling, reduce it to a simmer and gently place the kumquat slices in the pan in a single layer. Allow them to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove them with a mesh or slotted spoon and place them on a wire rack with a plate or paper towels underneath to catch the dripping syrup.


Roll the chilled dough out onto a greased and well-floured piece of parchment paper, rolling it into a 12-inch square or circle (depending on the shape of your tart pan), flouring and reflouring your rolling pin as needed. Once rolled out, flip the sheet of parchment paper over onto the tart pan and peel it off. Press the dough into the pan and smooth it out with your fingertips as best you can (careful though, it's a bit sticky.) Trim off any excess dough hanging off the edges. Cover the pan and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to relax.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the cream cheese filling, beat the sugar and cream cheese in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at low speed until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until just blended, taking careful not to over-beat them. Set aside.


Remove the plastic wrap from the tart crust and puncture the shell in several places with a fork. Place the shell in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove it, pop any air bubbles that may have risen with a fork and allow them to air out until flat. Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture into the tart shell. Place the tart back in the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the crust turns golden brown around the top edges. Remove and allow to cool completely before decorating with the candied kumquats. Serve at room temperature or chilled.






24 comments:

  1. This looks absolutely beautiful! And thank you for linking to Deb's no shrink tart crust - what a good recipe to have filed away :-)

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    1. Thank you! It really is an excellent crust recipe to have in your back pocket :)

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  2. Kumquats! The guy and I were obsessed with kumquats when we first discovered them. We made a kumquat and jalapeño marmalade and had it over pork tenderloin...SO good! I also made a kumquat and clementine infused rum from a Melissa Clark book. And we were big fans of popping them in our mouths. Eating citrus peel was so novel! Like a lot of obsessions, though, kumquats in our kitchen were short lived. This recipe makes me want to find some, stat! Although they wouldn't come from my own kumquat plant... :) What a great idea to incorporate them into floral arrangements! Do you think you'll have enough stems for your wedding?

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    1. They really are sooo tasty :) I am really hoping it gets big enough so that we'll have enough at least for the 13 centerpieces, I won't need the cuttings until the last week of August so it has some time to grow. Really hoping the hot LA summer makes it get big and fruit-laden, I'm looking into getting a citrus-specific fertilizer though to help encourage it's growth. Fingers crossed!

      And I am going to need to make that kumquat jalapeño marmalade with pork tenderloin, that sounds SO good. I have had a jellied fruit topping over pork once before and it was amazing. That combo sounds mouthwatering!

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  3. OOoooh, this tart looks fabulous! I love the idea of growing your own citrus indoors. An orangery!! I mean, I live in California and I still am in love with the idea of an orangery. Especially if it means fresh citrus in the north. :)

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    1. Thank you! It really isn't too difficult to grow small or dwarf citrus plants indoors in California, plus in the summer time you can move them outside so they can enjoy the warm sunshine :)

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  4. Lovely. Next time you have enough for the marmalade- try it as a glaze on duck breast. It's outrageous. I'm liking the sound of the kumquat and jalapeño too. :-)

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    1. Oh my, that DOES sound wonderful. I may just have to make an extra large batch of the kumquat jalapeño marmalade so I can put some of it on pork and the rest of it on duck. Fruit-glazed meats are so rich and delicious with their sweet and savory flavor combination, impossible to beat! :)

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  5. OK, would you believe that I don't know if I've ever had a kumquat? Crazy right?! But you pretty much hooked me with Nature's Sour Patch kids. I think I'll splurge and shell out $6 for a handful of them next time I'm at the store. (: I can totally imagine how good the candied citrus would be in combination with the sweet cheese filling!

    Also, I LOVE the idea of using kumquats in floral arrangements. Good for you for not taking no for an answer! I'm guessing a potted citrus tree must do fairly well out in CA. A friend of mine ordered a small lemon tree online a few years ago, and it's grown quite a bit, but it seems more leggy than anything. (Definitely not a nice, full tree by any means.) He finally got a few buds on it last summer, one of which actually managed to grow into a tiny lemon. Then a squirrel yoinked it off the plant when it was out on the back porch getting some sun!

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    1. My Dad tried growing a dwarf lemon tree in oregon and the exact same thing happened! It would get tiny lemons on it in the summer and then they would magically disappear. Until one day we saw some squirrels eating them and the mystery was solved haha. It was also the end of the lemon tree :( Damn you squirrels!! Ruining backyard citrus-growing for northerners!

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  6. What a *beautiful* blog--stumbled across it from Izy's :) these are such gorgeous pictures...I can't wait to read more from you. Consider yourself one avid follower up! (And marmalade sounds wonnnnderful atm)

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    1. Thank you so much Ala! I am so glad you found it and are enjoying your time here :)

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  7. i wouldn't know a kumquat if it smacked me upside the head, but i can state with certainty that this is one of the most lovely tarts i've ever seen!

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    1. Awww, thank you Grace! If you ever encounter one at the market you should try it, they're so tasty and fun to eat. I always feel like I'm in Alice in Wonderland when I eat one, like I grew into a giant and there's just a tiny little orange in the palm of my hand haha :)

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  8. How beautiful! I really love the kumquat design on top :) I just made a tart, too... And now I feel like I REALLY need a square (and rectangle) tart pan!

    Sues

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    1. I need to get a rectangle one and a circular one, all the shapes of tarts are so pretty haha! And thanks so much you two!

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  9. I keep passing up kumquats when I see them at the store, and after seeing this, I have no idea why!! This is such a pretty tart--I love the creamy filling topped with those bright, candied kumquats. I can't wait to have a yard to put something as lovely as a potted kumquat bush in. For now though, I will have to buy some kumquats at the store and quit passing up those lovely little things.

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    1. You should definitely try them! They are a bit pricey at the market but the flavor is so unique it is worth trying :)

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  10. This is such a gorgeous tart! I love kumquat and love candied kumquat even more...and top them on this gorgeous cream cheese tart made me want to have a piece now! Your pictures are gorgeous and really capture the beauty of the kumquats. :) I think it's about time that I go visit my In-Laws and pick some kumquat from their garden since I don't have one at my place! ;)

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    1. Thank you Amy! That is so great that your in-laws have a kumquat bush, fruit grown at home always tastes better than the stuff you buy at the store. Mine hasn't grown too much since I got it, but the weather hasn't warmed up too much yet so I think once it gets hot again I'll start seeing some new growth.

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  11. This is one gorgeous tart! I love kumquat. Yum!

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    1. Thanks Andrea! Kumquat is such a treat!

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