Kumquats are an unusual fruit. They’re small in size, oblong in shape, pack a punch of flavor and only in stores for a short time during the winter season. I love that the origin of their name means “golden orange”. Somehow, that makes them all the more lovelier.
Eaten out of hand fresh, their delicious taste, if somewhat bitter, is a colorful addition to salads, sliced thinly and removed of the tiny seeds. They can be chopped and cooked down with fresh cranberries, layered on tarts sweetened ricotta tart, topped with cream over shortbread biscuits or folded into cranberry muffins.
My favorite new way to cook kumquats is to candy them with another seasonal citrus, Meyer lemon, in a vanilla simple syrup. Pair that with an Italian Almond Cake and you have a match made in golden heaven.
1 pint kumquats, rinsed and dried
1 Meyer lemon
1/2 stick of vanilla bean, sliced crosswise
3/4 cup sugar
Slice the kumquts and Meyer lemons thinly. Remove the seeds and disgard. In a saucepan, heat the sugar, water and vanilla bean over medium low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the citrus and cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 8 hours or overnight. The syrup should be thick and the citrus should be slightly candied. Heat the citrus again until warm and place in a sterilized jar. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.