I do love the spicy zestiness of kumquats (even though their name is unspeakably rude; read my earlier post about kumquat compote) but they are, I admit, not the most versatile of fruits.
This is an easy recipe, although it takes a little time. I've called them 'half-candied' because they're not truly candied, as traditional crystallised fruits are. In order to crystallise fruit, it needs to be soaked in successively stronger solutions of sugar syrup until the syrup has replaced the fruit's natural moisture, thereby preventing it from spoiling.
Don't discard the zesty syrup once you've drained it off - it's wonderful for making syrup-based ices and exotic cocktails, and delicious poured over vanilla ice cream. Place the syrup in a lidded container and store in the fridge: it will keep for two to three weeks.
Half-Candied Kumquats Dipped in Dark Chocolate
500 g kumquats, washed
2 cups (500 ml) white granulated sugar
a little extra sugar for dredging
a slab of good-quality dark chocolate
Heat gently, stirring as the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 35 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover and allow to sit for three hours.
Now put the pan back on the heat, add the remaining half cup (125 ml) of sugar and heat, stirring now and again, until the new batch of sugar has dissolved into the syrup. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for another few hours, or overnight.
Arrange the fruit, cut side up, on piece of baking paper set on baking sheet. At this point, you can leave the kumquats in a warm, draughty place to dry out for a day or two, or you can dry them in your oven (this works very well if you have a fan-assisted oven).
Turn the oven to its lowest temperature setting and leave the fruit to dry out overnight. How long you dry the fruit for depends on how chewy you'd like it: mine were perfect after 12 hours in the oven.
Dredge white granulated sugar over the fruit and toss well so that each piece is lightly coated. Melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir well. Using your fingers or some small tongs, half-dip (or fully dip!) each piece of fruit into the chocolate. Set aside in a cool place to dry.
The kumquats will continue to dry out over the next few days. I was hoping to tell you how long these kept, but of course, in my house of chocolate fiends, they didn't.
Makes about 50 pieces.