Tart Kumquat Tart

Groan, stupid title, I know. But it had to be done.

This was the tart I made for yesterday's pie party. The tart itself was only okay, but I thought the little kumquats look rather merry.

And for anyone eyeing my crust critically, it's supposed to be rustic.

To be honest, I wasn't crazy about the crust. I used this recipe (it's actually for a chocolate crust but I wanted something pure and simple, not chocolate and raspberries (don't be confused; see explanation below for what happened to the raspberries), so I substituted the cocoa powder for ground almonds--which, by the way, I find to be a very satisfactory substitution, if ever you come across a chocolate recipe that you want to unchocolatize. Wow, I believe I just invented a new word, probably because a normal human being could not conceive, I suppose, of wanting to take the chocolate out of something. I do love chocolate. But sometimes I come across a recipe I am amazed by, and I wonder how I can play with it, change the flavors, and sometimes this requires committing the act of unchocolatizing.). Anyhow, repeat: not crazy about the crust. It was soft. I like my tart crust to be a bit snappier, ever-so-sort-of like shortbread. Perhaps my clever idea of substituting ground almonds for cocoa powder isn't so clever when it comes to tart dough--but it does work beautifully for cakes, rest assured.

So, to be fair to my kumquat tart, perhaps it was simply a case of a pretty picture trapped in an ugly frame. Except that the filling...

For the filling, I used the recipe in Ruth Reichl's book Tender to the Bone, inspired by a luscious picture in the Amateur Gourmet's blog, and conveniently found here, under "Oleron Raspberry Tart (the best raspberry tart in the world)"--the parenthesized part remains to be tasted. Unfortunately, the recipe asks for 3/4 cup of whole almonds, which you are then supposed to grind up in the food processor that I don't possess, and so I bought ground almonds and kind of...guessed at the quantity. Another obstacle I encountered: no raspberries. Raspberries are painfully expensive in Japan and not in great demand; sometimes, in a specialty store, you might find a glass case of four berries nestled in white satin for a hundred dollars. Or something like that. We don't have them kinda stores where we live. But I spotted some kumquats and thought that using seasonal fruit would result in a better tasting tart anyway. Right?

Of course, when I got home, I first sampled a kumquat to reassure myself it would be acceptable in a tart, and then hastily replaced my backup can of peaches was pleased to note the kumquat tasted quite fine. For anyone who's never tried one, a kumquat is about the size of a cherry tomato, and is somewhat like an orange in flavor and scent, except that the peel is sweet (and edible) and what little fruit there is is tart. I think for some people, the idea of eating raw citrus peel can be a bit unsettling, and even I sort of hesitate when I'm about to pop an entire kumquat into my mouth.

Anyhow, I spread the frangipane into the base of the blind-baked tart shell, cut the kumquats in half, deseeded them, and gently pressed them into the tart. Sprinkled a teaspoon of sugar over top and baked.

The frangipane turned out weird. Kind of black in the center, rather than the warm, golden brown I was anticipating. It was also rather dense--the result of too much ground almonds, I believe--kind of marzipanish. Tasty though. Just not what I wanted.

The kumquats were lovely after baking, jewel-toned and glowing. I thought they tasted pretty good in the tart, and I liked their bright, fresh aroma. My husband proclaimed their presence overwhelming. I think if I ever try this again, I'll slice the kumquats into thin disks instead. I just thought the kumquat halves would make for a prettier presentation.

(For anyone wondering why I didn't just use the pastry recipe for the raspberry tart, the Amateur Gourmet wrote that the dough made from Reichl's recipe was rather uncooperative, and so I went in search of an alternative, and found myself enticed by the chocolate crust instructions that claim: "Don't worry if the dough breaks; it can easily be repaired," which was a welcome change from most pie dough recipes that so happily tell you: "If you tear/stretch/so much as breathe on the dough, your pastry is DOOMED to cracker hell.")

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Wow, it doesn't even sound like the same pie I ate. I thought it was very good and no, I didn't notice that the crust wasn't "pretty". Okay, so my taste buds are not refined, and my sensitivity to the pie's aesthetics leave much to be desired, but hey, in my opinion, it was a good and delicious tart. You're too hard on yourself! 

- Hsin

1/07/2005 11:14:00 PM  

What a fab idea. I love Kumquats but would never have thought of baking with them. I'll definitely give it a bash now though. Unchocolateifying (hah top that word) is a very good thing to do also. :) 

- Lesley

1/08/2005 12:58:00 AM  

Thanks for the tart support, Hsin-Li!

Lesley, I'm glad you like my idea. If you get around to experimenting with baking with kumquats, let me know how the results turn out!  

- Rachel

1/09/2005 01:01:00 AM  

Oooh, it looks just like what I imagined it to be! Chouuu kawaiiii! 

- Lynn

1/11/2005 11:25:00 AM  

Domo domo! 

- Rachel

1/12/2005 07:26:00 PM  

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