December 1, 2011

Candied Kumquats! (and Hello Again!!!)

Dear friends,

Thank you for your patience! We have had a busy, busy fall! We learned we are expecting again, hooray! And also, that we have to move to the North East. Both are exciting, although, we are of course sad to leave our wonderful friends and family that we live near now. This little baby, who is a girl, has been significantly harder on Mommy than the first. I think if I met the first pregnant me now, who was fortunate enough to be able to say things like, 'I never had morning sickness,' which, although true, would make me want to punch that me in the face.

A very special thank you to Ellen P, for her comments on Liqueur 44! You know, when I've made this in the past, I haven't experienced what you described, the amount of sugar that stays on the bottom. It is most likely just due to less vigorous shaking during the first week. I think it is most likely not a significant issue for two reasons- the first being, you may find the finished product sufficiently sweet and not mind that the full amount of sugar never became incorporated, or, a second reason, you can easily make the mixture sweeter, if you determine that's what you'd prefer, by mixing it with a simple syrup, (equal parts sugar and water). You need to heat the simple syrup to make it smooth, and then allow it to cool before mixing it with the liqueur. (Limoncello is made in a very similar way to taste). Thank you again for your enthusiasm! I hope that the finished product delights you and your guests this holiday season.

I love candied citrus peel. It is so delicious! And, I don't know if it's true, but I feel like it is very holiday-like. My mother loves candied citrus peel also. I have candied grapefruit peel before, and that's especially delicious, probably because on its own it's somewhat tart, so the finished product has a very nice balance of sweetness. I recently saw some kumquats in Whole Foods and I thought, they are citrus, why can't I candy them? So I did! Because they are small, I candied them in slices about 1/4-1/3" thick. They are delicious and look like little jewels! I gave a small jar of them to a friend yesterday and she loved them! I hope you will, too. While it seems like they take forever, it's more of a waiting game than a very involved process.

Candied Kumquats
1 pint kumquats
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
Extra sugar for coating (probably up to 1/3 of a cup)

First, rinse your kumquats in cool water. Remove the remainder of any green stems that are still on them and then slice them into pieces that are 1/4-1/3" wide. You'll need to pick out the seed fragments, this will be a little tedious, what helps is doing it partially in a bowl of water, which seems to help liberate them.

In a small pot on the stove, combine 2 1/2 cups sugar and 2 1/2 cups water. Combine over medium heat, and allow to form a syrup, this probably takes 10-20 minutes. Basically, you need equal parts sugar and water. Just adjust that up or down based on how much citrus you are candy-ing. You may want to use a candy thermometer for this, although, I feel like because mine sits on the outer edge of the pot, the temperature it registers is not completely accurate. In that 10-20 minute period, get it up to 200 degrees on your candy thermometer.

Add the kumquat slices and simmer over a very low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the burner and allow the kumquats to sit in the syrup, absorbing it, for either the whole day, or overnight, depending on when you are starting this process. (This is 7-12 hours depending on when you are available again) After waiting either all day or overnight, heat over medium heat for about 10-20 minutes, reaching 210 degrees on the candy thermometer. Turn off the burner immediately, and allow to sit again, absorbing the syrup, either all day or overnight. Guess what is next... Yes! Do it again, heating over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, this time reaching 215-220 on the candy thermometer, again, turn off and leave for another day or night (7-12 hours).

You'll notice that the syrup amount is decreasing, this is good- it's being absorbed by your little kumquat jewels! Ok, now, to liberate the kumquats. After sitting for the last time, they'll be too sticky to remove without heating. So go ahead, and turn your burner on low, and after a few minutes, you'll be able to extract each piece with either a fork or tongs. For the drying step, I like to put them on a rack that is over a cookie sheet. However, the kumquats are quite petite, so you may need a more tightly meshed rack, like one for cooling cookies, etc. So, whatever you have, make sure it has the ability for syrup to drain off the kumquats. You'll want them and the syrup hot enough so that the excess syrup will actually drain off, as opposed to just warm enough to extract. Use your excellent judgment here!

Ok, let them dry on their rack for a day. Then, roll them in granulated sugar. Allow them to sit for a few hours after being rolled in the sugar before storing them. I store them either in a tin using layers of parchment or in small glass mason jars. I hope you'll be delighted at how delicious and special these treats are! Perhaps a good gift for your family, friends and children's teachers?

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