May 23, 2008
When I was a kid, I loved to go visit my Aunt and Uncle in Pensacola. They had the most wonderful plant in their backyard, a small kumquat tree. I had quite a fondness for kumquats and their tree was the perfect size for me to pick. My Aunt and Uncle weren't that fond of kumquats, so they let me have any ripe fruit on their tree when we were visiting. I loved the sweet tart flavor of the kumquats and the way they burst open in my mouth as I bit down on them.
You can imagine my joy, when I discovered the kumquats had come in season. They were piled in a lovely display at the entrance to Whole Foods. I grabbed several pints to bring home and began to day dream about all the fabulous foods I could make with them. Once they got home, my daughter asked if she could try my kumquats. Delighted, I sliced some up for her to try and warned her that they could have the same flavor as the yellow Sweet Tart candy. She popped one in her mouth and was smitten with their lovely sweetness followed by a hint of tanginess.
Before long, I was down to just a dozen of the beautiful little orange orbs. So, I didn't have enough for the kumquat preserves I had planned on making. Looking through my pantry, a can of lychee fruit caught my eye and I wondered how they would taste with kumquats. A few tasting experiments later and adding some slices of the last of my Clementines, I had the makings of a great recipe for preserves - kumquats, Clementines and lychees. It is a fabulous celebration of sweet and piquant fruit.
After making up the preserves, I began making some sweet puffs that I could fill. The first batch of puffs were literally devoured by my family. My daughter sat and opened each of her sweet puffs filled them with some homemade strawberry preserves. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, my preteen son slipped in and scooted out with the last of the sweet puffs clutched close to his chest. My husband sat in the kitchen laughing and told me I'd have to make more if there were going to be any for breakfast.
My sweet puffs recipe is a variation on the Master Pate a Choux recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I'm submitting my kumquat lychee preserves to Sugar High Friday, hosted this month by the lovely Tartelette.
Kumquat Lychee Preserves
12 kumquats, peeled & seeded
2 clementines, peeled & seeded
1 20-oz can lychee fruit in syrup
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp monocalcium phosphate*
1/4 tsp pectin*
1 medium canning jar & lid, sterilized
Sterilizing Canning Jar(s)
1. Your canning jars need to be thoroughly cleaned before use. Run the jars through your dishwasher or wash and rinse them.
2. Place the jar(s) in a large pot of water, so that the jar is totally covered in water. Then bring the water to a boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes and then keep the jar(s) in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.
Making the Preserves
1. Chop the fruit into medium sized chunks. Then place the fruit and sugar into a food processor. Blend until all the chunks are broken up.
2. In a medium sauce pan, pour in the water and the monocalcium phosphate. Stir until the calcium dissolves.
3. Then sprinkle the pectin across the water and stir together. Break up any small clumps of pectin that remain.
4. Pour in the fruit and sugar mixture, then stir together. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Then cook for 20 minutes.
5. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.
Miniature Sweet Puffs
4 Tb chestnut flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
2 Tb arrowroot starch
1 tsp chia seed meal
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cane sugar
2 tsp agave syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk
3 Tb vegetable shortening
2 large eggs, beaten
hot water for the steaming pan
1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place one oven rack in the center of the oven and another rack on the lower under it. One the lower oven rack place a heat proof pan or bowl on it.
2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia seed meal, sugar and salt. Stir together, making sure the chia seed meal is thoroughly mixed with the flours.
3. In a medium sized sauce pan, pour in the water, almond milk, agave syrup and vegetable shortening. Bring to a boil. At the first sign of boiling, remove the sauce pan from the heat and dump in the flour mixture. Using a thick wooden spoon, stir the mixture. The dough will become thick and gloppy.
4. Return the sauce pan to the burner and place on medium heat. Stir for about 1 to 2 minutes to cook out the flour flavor.
5. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and using a hand mixer or the paddle attachment from a stand mixer. Mix on low speed making sure the mixture is 180 degrees Fahrenheit or a little less. Add one egg and continue to mix. Scrape down the sides as necessary until the egg is thoroughly incorporated with the dough. Add the second egg and repeat. At this point you can cover the dough and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
6. Transfer the dough to a piping bag using a number 1 tip. Pipe small mounds about 1 inch high and 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Then brush the dough with the egg mixture.
7. Place the cookie sheet into the oven and pour water into the heat proof pan or bowl. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Prop the oven door open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon.
8. Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving. Makes 30 miniature sweet puffs.
1. You can substitute more clementines for the kumquats in the preserves recipe.
2. You can substitute 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal in the sweet puffs recipe.
3. You can substitute 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend for the various flours. If your flour blend has xanthan gum already added to it, then do not add an extra binder (chia seed meal, xanthan or guar gum).
* Monocalcium Phosphate & Pectin - I used Pomona's Universal Pectin. In the box from Pomona, you will find a packet of monocalcium phosphate and a packet of pectin. I purchased my box of Pomona's from Whole Foods. I found it on the baking aisle near the sugar and spices.