Summary: Having been obsessed with homemade ricotta for quite some time now, I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy it. Recently, during a magical weekend in Charleston, my husband and I noticed the delightful presence of candied kumquats in several dishes. I returned home and immediately candied a batch of these teeny citrus orbs for myself; thank you for that recipe, Elise Bauer. It didn't take long for me to spoon them atop some ricotta, and to heaven I was immediately transported. Since that fortuitous snack pairing, I've been thinking about ways to formalize the ricotta-kumquat duo into a true dessert. A tart sounded promising and shortbread is always a lovely base perfectly happy to play second fiddle. This.is.scrumptious! Make the candied kumquats and ricotta in advance so that they're at the ready AND you have plenty of both left to nibble on. The shortbread crust is taken from Mark Bittman's shortbread cookie recipe.
Yield: 10 - 14 slices
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 egg yolk (I know, that's annoying)
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups kumquats, cut into halves or thirds, large seeds removed
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup ricotta (not fat-free); I make mine per Jenny Perillo's recipe on Food 52 but use 2% instead of whole.)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon candied kumquat syrup (you'll have plenty from making the candied kumquats)
- scant 1/2 c sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the butter and sugar; beat on low speed to combine but don't go nuts. Just about a minute. Keeping the speed on low, beat in the half egg yolk, then the flour, cornstarch and salt, until the mixture barely holds together. Mash together in your hands as best you can and transfer to a piece of plastic wrap. Press into a disk, wrap tightly and refrigerate for 20 or 30 minutes.
While that's chilling and if you've not already, candy your kumquats. Heat the water and sugar over high heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add the kumquats and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the kumquats from the pan using a slotted spoon, and set them aside in a storage bowl (Pyrex or the like). Return the syrup to a simmer and reduce for about five minutes. Pour as much of the syrup as you like over the kumquats and place in the fridge until you need them. Any leftover syrup would, I think, be great in a cocktail or on ice cream... Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Preheat the oven to 275° Fahrenheit. Remove the shortbread from the fridge and let it warm up a bit. Roll out into a rectangular shape and the press into your rectangular (13 3/4 x 4 1/2-inch) tart pan. You can mash it up the sides if you like though it will sink some. Bake 25 minutes, remove and let cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
Raise the temp of the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg and kumquat syrup until smooth. Stir in the sugar and flour, mixing until few lumps, if any, remain.
Pour into the slightly cooled tart shell and bake for 20-25 minutes. If you lightly shake the tart pan, the filling will jiggle a bit in the middle but be firm at the edges. Remove and, when still warm, scatter 1/3 - 1/2 cup of candied kumquats over the top. Chill until cool before serving. If refrigerating overnight, cover with plastic wrap before doing so.