The story could beging with "I've got these two friends, you see"...And then I could even attempt a rhyme like "they are wild and crazy". But that would be putting Todd and Diane in a box and these two, their hearts and their generosity will never bump the corners of a box. What am I talking about...their garden knows no boundaries. Over a month ago, they sent me a box of Calamansi limes from their own tree and it took me very little time to figure out what I wanted to do with them. Calamansi Mousse Tartelettes With Candied Kumquats.
Every time I virtually enter Todd and Diane's garden, I get lost in all of its beauty and amazing givings. I literally get lost there and in the gorgeous pictures this amazing team pairs up with their delicious recipes. You get it, I am running low on adjectives to describe them and what they contribute to the blogging world. Actually wait, here's another one, hot. These two are smoking hot. And hilarious. I've been fortunate to meet them both twice and twice I've wanted to bottle them up and take them home with me.
I had tasted Calamansi limes once years ago, before getting this shipment from Todd and Diane. Oh how I remember that first encounter. Could be one for the "what not to do" list. They look like rounded kumquats and I did what I usually do with kumquats. I popped a whole one in my mouth. Then I remember distinctly squinting my eyes, feeling my cheeks draw themselves inward. I love tart and I love sour but this on a scale from 1 to 10 was 25 in the sour-tart department. Oh my, did I squint!!
This time I had a plan. I zested about half of them and juiced them all and believe me, that took a little while and I was left with about 3/4 cup of juice. I immediately thought about making curd for tartelettes and mixed it with whipped cream to tone done the sour factor. The mousse was just right for everyone. For the shells, I used my favorite short crust dough but added some freshly chopped lemon balm to enhance the hints of citrus. Lemon verbena or lemon thyme would work quite well here also.
Since all the little limes from the box had been used for juice, I candied some sliced kumquats to crown the tartelettes with. This almost did not happen as we had a full house munching on them the day I made them and barely saved enough for the tarts. These are like crack in our house. They take a bit of time with slicing and removing the seeds but they are well worth the time. I used them in breads instead of raisins, on tartines with herbed goat cheese, and my favorite way is to tuck pieces into a bowl of my freshly made rice pudding.
The combination of flavors worked out perfectly well from top to bottom. Literally. I know Calamansi limes are not available everywhere but you could easily replace them with limes or lemons, any citrus would work beautifully here.
Calamansi Mousse Tartelettes With Candied Kumquats:
Makes four 3-inch tartelettes
For the sable crust:
1/2 stick (55 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup (95 grams) all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon freshly chopped lemon balm
For the Calamansi lime mousse:
3/4 cup (190 ml) calamansi juice (or lemon or lime juice)
1 cup (100gr) sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (190ml) heavy cream
Prepare the crust:In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg yolk and mix for a short minute. Add the flour, salt and chopped lemon balm and beat until the dough just starts to come together. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it a little to a small disk and wrap it well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour before using.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper or on a well floured board until 1/4-inch thick. Cut out four 4 inch rounds of pastry dough and fit them inside four 3 inch tartlet molds, patting the dough in with your fingertips if needed. Place a small piece of parchment paper inside the tart shells, fill with beans or pie weights and blind bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and remove the shells from the rings.
Prepare the curd:
In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the Calamansi juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks to break them up. Beat some of the Calamansi mixture into the egg yolks to temper. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes. Remove the curd from the heat, stir in the butter until it is completely incorporated. Let cool completely. If not using immediately, place a piece of plastic wrap over the top.
Whip the heavy cream to medium stiff peeks and gently fold it in the citrus curd in two additions or until no streaks of whipped cream remains.
Place the mousse into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipes rosettes of mousse inside the shells. You can also simply spoon the mousse inside the shells. Top with candied kumquat slices if desired and refrigerate.
You can blanch the kumquats in boiling water for a minute before candying them but I forgot to one year at the restaurant and honestly did not see a difference in taste or time. If you think yours have been treated heavily with chemicals before packaging, I encourage to drop the kumquat slices in boiling water for a minute, drain them and proceed to the candy part.
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 cup (100gr) sugar
1 pint fresh kumquats, washed, patted dry, and cut in 1/8 inch thin slices
In a heavy saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the kumquats, being careful not to overcrowd your pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the fruit become translucent, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and place it, separating the slices, on a piece of parchment paper or silpat. Use as desired.