Kumquat “Fantasy” Cream

If Edouard Nignon could dream about macaroon soufflés with strawberries, then I can and have dreamt about this cream served with almost anything, or just by itself.

One morning in San Francisco in 1990, exhausted from a long charity banquet for 400 people the night before and wandering through the pastry kitchen on my way upstairs to the main kitchen, I stopped to taste the cream being prepared for tiramisu. “Stop right there!” I cried. “Cancel the old dessert. We have a new one.”

We filled little thin-walled chocolate cups with this cream, put them on a bed of caramel custard sauce, then topped the cups with chopped hazelnuts and white chocolate shavings. These chocolate cups are much too hard to do at home, so if you cannot buy them, use the cream on savarins, baba, or napoleons like on the pound cake.

I love kumquats, and the variety you will probably find is Fortunella margarita, with oval fruit; but if you see the round one, Fortunella japonica, buy it. It is sweeter. You can eat the whole kumquat except for the seeds and stem.

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Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • pinch salt
  • 1 pound fresh mascarpone cream
  • 16 kumquats, stemmed
  • ½ cup medium syrup
  • ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

Method

Prepare an ice bath.

Put the egg yolks, sugar, Grand Marnier, and salt in a metal bowl, and beat for 2 minutes. Put the bowl over (not touching) barely simmering water and beat for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.

Put the bowl in the ice bath and continue beating for 5 minutes, or until cool, incorporating as much air as possible.

Add the mascarpone, and whip until thick. Do not overbeat or the mascarpone will separate. Refrigerate the cream until needed.

Put the kumquats in a saucepan with the syrup, bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender. Add the rosemary and let cool. When the kumquats are cool enough to handle, drain them and reserve the syrup. Then remove the seeds and chop the kumquats coarsely (-inch pieces). If there is a lot of liquid left, reduce it until it is a thick syrup, and pour it back over the chopped fruit.

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