For a little while there, it was like having a third child… I gazed upon it, protected it, nurtured it and when it was fully grown and ready, I eased it out gently into the real world. Surely, there has been no other cumquat as well-loved and as well-photographed as this one here. You can more than likely tell that we don’t have many other fruit trees supplying us with nature’s bounty.
So, what did I end up doing with my one little cumquat? After requesting (and gratefully receiving… thanks girls!) advice on my previous post, thumbing through cookbooks and perusing numerous online images and recipes, a decision was finally made. Candied Cumquat was the unanimous consensus. A dear friend of mine mused that dark chocolate would be the perfect base… and as much as I knew that the flavours would work brilliantly together, I was unsure of the visual aspect in placing caramel-coloured candied cumquat atop the darkest of chocolate. I was picturing brown upon brown and felt that the cumquat might get a little lost. Lemon or orange syrup cake had entered my mind, but no amount of searching for attractive images online could confirm that this idea would create the beautiful result I was after. I searched and searched, but was surprisingly nonplussed by all that I came across.
In the end, flavour took priority and I decided on making some ‘Pots de Crème au Chocolat’ with a spot of cream to both highlight the cumquat and cut through the richness of the chocolate. I particularly thought to use a mixture of milk and dark chocolate in the Crèmes, to soften the flavour somewhat for my children’s palates… others may choose to work with purely dark.
I have a little confession to make though my friends… I have come to comprehend why our cumquat tree has hesitated in producing fruit for us before. It’s now really quite clear! Our family… all four of us it seems… DON’T actually like cumquats! Their appearance – yes! – by all means, what could be better than a fruiting ornamental cumquat to sit and admire? The candied cumquat that I made was all too reminiscent of the cloyingly tart marmalades I’ve tasted in the past. I ate it, but regret to say that it wasn’t altogether enjoyable. My youngest child passed his nibbled-at slice of cumquat to me, to finish on his behalf, while the others chewed furiously fast, just to make the taste go away… Thankfully the dessert sitting underneath was there and waiting. Within a moment the decadent taste of chocolate had wiped away the bitter ending to our prized cumquat.
This really wasn’t the outcome I’d hoped to be sharing with you today, but unfortunately it is the simple and honest truth. If we are graced by any more cumquats in the future, I will certainly try to find another way of enjoying them through cooking, in a savoury dish next time… like a tagine perhaps. Or maybe even amongst a salad…
The Pots de Crème au Chocolat that I prepared are adapted slightly from a recipe I found, by The Plantation House Restaurant in Hawaii (which looks an idyllic location!). Being way too generous and enthusiastic in my portion sizes of these, I’ll know now for future reference, that this quantity will provide dessert for six to eight people, instead of a greedy four. They are lusciously creamy in texture, rich in chocolatey goodness and go beautifully with a scoop of chantilly cream on top. An adornment of fruit is still I think required, though depending on what’s in season, perhaps the likes of raspberries (or any berry for that matter), kiwi or banana. A sprinkling of chopped toasted nuts would also be fabulous…
Pots de Creme au Chocolat (with Candied Cumquat)
For the Pots de Crème:
- 100g Dark Chocolate
- 100g Milk Chocolate
- 4 Tablespoons Raw Sugar
- 375mls/1½ Cups Thick/Heavy Cream
- 4 Free-Range Egg Yolks
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
Gently melt the two types of chocolate over a double boiler. At the same time, warm up the cream in a saucepan, until it almost comes to a boil (do not let it boil). Add the sugar and heated cream to the chocolate, stirring carefully until smooth. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then add a spoonful of the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine (this will hopefully help to avoid having scrambled eggs in the next stage!) Now add the egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt to the chocolate and again stir carefully until silky and smooth. If you feel at all that your mixture is a little lumpy, strain it through a sieve before it cools down.
Allow to cool a little before pouring into your chosen pots/glasses/ramekins. Refrigerate for about 3 hours, before serving with whipped (Chantilly) cream and a slice of candied cumquat.
For the Candied Cumquat:
- 2 – 3 Fresh Cumquats (if you happen to have that many…)
- 125mls/½ Cup Water
- 110g/½ Cup Sugar
- 1 Star Anise (optional)
In a small saucepan, stir the water, sugar and star anise (if using) over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil, allow the syrup to simmer for a minute or two. Slice the cumquats thinly and add them to the syrup. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring gently every now and then.
Remove cumquat slices (and a little of the syrup) to a bowl to cool down, ready to garnish the Pots de Crèmes…