Kumquats are citrus fruits that are as deliciously sweet as they are sweetly fragrant.
They look very much like over ripe kalamansi limes. And that's what I thought they were when Terri of Hunger Hunger first introduced them to me.
As soon as I got home from meeting Terri I ate a ripened one and allowed the rest to shed their last tinge of green over the next few days before I turned them into candied fruit. Because, as delicious as they were, I felt they were deserving of being displayed and admired in the form of an elegant dessert.
It was in a beautiful blog by Vera of Baking Obsession where I saw this beautifully elegant cheesecake topped with a kumquat jewelled crown. It sang to me......so I yielded.
The cheesecake was creamy, dense and rich with only a slight orange flavour since I had omitted using the rind of an orange as stated for in the recipe. But it was delicious nevertheless. And the kumquats? They topped it all.
Candied kumquats are ridiculously easy to make especially since I relented to Simply Recipes' version because it required less boiling time.
Unfortunately, when the 10 minutes of boiling was up the kumquats were not yet as translucent as I had hoped they would be. I faltered. But not trustung my own instincts I took them off the heat and drained them of the syrup. I bottled them and chilled them in the refrigerator while I made the cake.
And when, later, I read Vera's version of candied kumquats it made me wish that I had done as she did. Boiled them for 30 minutes instead of 10 until they turned truly translucent, looked preciously fragile with a sparkling crystal-like quality to it.
But it was done. So I proceeded and, as you can see, it is not as translucently beautiful as it could have been. But please........ do imagine it to be.
I may also mention that I halved the recipe, it being very rich, and divided the halved mixture between 2 4 inch pans so that I could give one away to avoid the family consuming too much cake.
The recipe...........by Vera of Baking Obsession
For the candied kumquats
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
9 oz kumquats, or 25 medium, thinly sliced crosswise and seeds removed (I used a toothpick to push the seeds out)
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. Add the bean. (I used vanilla extract). Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and then add the kumquats and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until the slices are translucent. Drain, place kumquats in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the syrup to it.Keep aside.
Return the remaining syrup to a medium heat and let it simmer until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. About 8 minutes.
The Crust ......( I had made my own without measurements but this is Vera's recipe.......
2 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (from about 9 oz cookies and finely ground in a food processor)
1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
7 T butter, melted
Set the oven ad 170 C. Line a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper. The pan should have 23/4 inch high sides.
Combine all above ingredient for crust. Mix well with fingers and pat and press into pan and up the sides about an inch. Bake for about 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and set.
Wrap the bottom half of the pan well with heavy duty aluminium foil so that water from the water bath does not leak in when baking.
(I did not use a water bath and the cheesecake turned out perfectly baked).
(I used 2, 4 inch removable bottom pans, unlined and pressed the crumb crust only on the bottom and did not bake them). I may, also, have omitted to mention that lazy is my middle name.
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup sugar, divided
2 T finely grated orange peel (please do add for beter flavour)
4 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
3 T all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
Combine 1/4 of the sugar and orange peel in the saucepan. Rub with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic. (I wished I had an unwaxed orange so I could have done this. I suggest that you do not omit this step at all).
Add orange juice and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer about 8 minutes until the syrup is reduced to 3/4 cup. Cool completely.
With an electric mixer beat cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup sugar until creamy and smooth. Add in flour, salt and eggs one at a time. Combine well. Finally add cooled orange syrup/juice. Stir well to combine.
Pour the cheesecake batter over the crumb bottom. Place the pan in a roasting pan and fill with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until softly set about for 1 to 11/4. When baked leave the cake in the oven for an hour to cool down and to prevent cracking the top. Chill overnight and loosen the edges with a knife the next day and unmould.
Arrange the candied kumquats in circular rows on the top. Serve.