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Calamansi Mousse Tartelettes With Candied Kumquats

Calamansi Lime Mousse Tartelettes

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.

Ingredients for tartelettes

Clockwise: kumquats getting candied – fresh Calamansi limes – Calamsi curd in progress – fresh kumquats.

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.

Making Tartelettes

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 Lime Mousse Tartelettes

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.

Candied kumquats:
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.

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Kitchen M December 7, 2009 um 8:13 am

I was looking forward to this post as I sneaked a peek at your Flikr photos earlier today. The candied kumquats shot is absolutely stunning! I don't know how long I was gazing at the photo… really.

I'm also a big fan of citrus curd. I can't promise that I will try making this (looks like a lot of work…), but I would love to taste yours. 😉

Finla December 7, 2009 um 8:15 am

I don't think i have ever tasted this fruit, i have seenthem in shops.
They look beautiful.

Unknown December 7, 2009 um 8:48 am

I don't think I've eaten kumquats as I wouldn't have known what to do with them before. I know they do sell them in the UK around Christmas so I will look out for them.

Your photos and styling are truly inspirational – as ever!

Sinful Organic Cook December 7, 2009 um 9:35 am

i haven't heard of the word calamansi from any blog site except from yours. i'm from the philippines and this is our lime and lemon used in various sweet and savory recipes. i'm delighted that this humble citrus fruit can be turned into something classy. try them in custards or as a cream filling. thanks for the recipe! 🙂

♥peachkins♥ December 7, 2009 um 10:43 am

this is interesting..

Jessica December 7, 2009 um 11:28 am

This looks delicious. I've never had a kumquat!

Reni December 7, 2009 um 12:58 pm

Gorgeous tartelettes and beautiful presentation. But since there are no kumquats nor calamansi limes around, I will have to be content with lemons/limes. One question though, in the preparation step for the curd, when is the butter added ? Is it before or after whipped cream ?

El December 7, 2009 um 1:22 pm

What wonderful friends you have sending you such amazing treats. The recipe and photographs are absolutely beautiful.

Engineer Baker December 7, 2009 um 1:32 pm

This looks absolutely wonderfully refreshing! And now I have an undeniable urge to buy kumquats, so hopefully I can find them around me 😛 PS – Can I bottle you up and take you home with me? You and Todd and Diane and oh goodness – so many wonderful people.

Valérie I♥Cakes December 7, 2009 um 1:43 pm

C'est très original comme recette ! Et visiblement les kumquats confits c'est délicieux :o)

Helene December 7, 2009 um 1:44 pm

Kitchen M: it's not that much work at all. The dough can be made up to 4 days in advance and kept refrigerated. Same for the curd, just bring it back to room temperature. The only lengthy part is slicing and seeding the kumquats. Once in the sugar-water mixture, you just wait 20 minutes for them to be done.

Reni: thanks for noticing I forgot to add that line. Rectified.

Thanks everyone.

Jane December 7, 2009 um 2:01 pm

Your blog is incredibly beautiful! I'm guessing you take all the photos as well? WOW. Gorgeous!

RecipeGirl December 7, 2009 um 2:48 pm

I've never had a kumquat! You've made them look extremely appetizing and beautiful though. Must try!

tami December 7, 2009 um 2:55 pm


This might be my dream dessert. I'll forgo chocolate decadence any day for something like this. I just love citrus desserts and have a warm spot in my heart for kumquats. Stunning and fabulous, as usual 🙂

– t*

Bria December 7, 2009 um 4:31 pm

Like many of the other commenters, I don't think I have ever tasted a kumquat before. I like saying the name though, I think I will put them on the list of new things to try this winter!

Beautiful food and pictures as always. I love coming to this site in the morning, its very soothing. 🙂

Rosa's Yummy Yums December 7, 2009 um 4:48 pm

What a gorgeous recipe! Those tartlets look divine!



[email protected] December 7, 2009 um 6:13 pm

I had never heard of Calamansi limes before… Thanks for introducing them to me! In the meantime, I have seen a bag of Meyers Lemons at the supermarket, I might just use them until I try Calamansi limes (but I won't try them like you did the first time!!).

Jess December 7, 2009 um 7:31 pm

These photographs are so happy and bright. Just the thing for this dreary winter day. I haven't yet had my first kumquat this year. Thanks for the inspiration.

mycookinghut December 7, 2009 um 8:23 pm

Love calamansi.. this desserts is perfect for me!

Caroline December 7, 2009 um 10:10 pm

Thank you for posting on Calamansi, I'm glad they are getting more attention, especially as desserts.

Open Kitchen Concept December 8, 2009 um 12:23 am

Hi, I love kumquats.. and happen to have a batch now.. How long can candied kamquats be kept for?

Lauren December 8, 2009 um 12:55 am

Definitely want a kumquat now =D.

Rob December 8, 2009 um 1:09 am

Very beautiful photography and styling. Wow!

Kamran Siddiqi December 8, 2009 um 1:25 am

Helen, wow! That's all I have to say. Your photos just make my jaw drop!

Me loving to try new things would love to try a calamansi lime. I am don't think I have ever tried one before. And if I have, it was probably when I was wayyy younger and my mother used to feed me just about everything and anything edible.

I think I need to get my hands on a few of those limes, and I'll be all set. 🙂

Helene December 8, 2009 um 5:44 am

Open Kitchen Concept: you can easily keep them for 2-3 days at room temperature and up to a week in the fridge.

Martha: nope that was an extra line as I was working on two documents at once. All fixed now.

Simones Kitchen December 8, 2009 um 8:22 am

I love the look of these! I never knew such tiny limes existed… 🙂 I can so imagine your face when you popped one in your mouth! The tartelettes you make look amazing!

Angela KL December 8, 2009 um 10:34 am

Hi Helene, I follow your blog regularly and admire the food that you prepare and your lovely pictures.

Yes, kalamansi (or lime) is very sour and I can imagine your experience.. sometimes you may even get a 'nerve freeze' cos of the sourness!

I must try the kalamansi mousse.. I have a tree (with fruits) in my house + they are available 365 days a year here + very cheap. We make lime-onade with it(like lemonade) + in sambals.

Great to see you experiment with different fruits.

ChichaJo December 8, 2009 um 10:36 am

Calamansi! Oooh I can't believe I'm seeing calamansi here and so beautifully done up! This little lime is all over here except ours is green instead of orange…we use it in so many things from condiments, seasoning dishes, and desserts. I don't think I have ever seen a calamansi dessert as pretty as this one though 🙂

The Teacher cooks December 8, 2009 um 12:56 pm

This is just beautiful!!! I love your tweets, too!

Lori December 8, 2009 um 12:56 pm

You inspire the generosity of others with you generosity.

THese look beautiful and I bet they taste sensational.

Amanda December 8, 2009 um 6:06 pm

Such a beautiful blog! Your photography is perfection!


Manggy December 8, 2009 um 9:23 pm

Oh dear. I hope you've recovered from the acidic hit your tongue took! I wish you'd twittered to ask first, hee hee (well, if I was awake I would've answered…)
Mangoes have always been the Philippines' national fruit but calamansi is a close second… We love it on everything, sweet and savory! And I've no doubt as a true blue Filipino I'd love these tarts too 🙂

Kana December 9, 2009 um 2:07 pm

We had a calamansi tree in our yard and used to enjoy sucking on them!! Thanks for the mousse recipe.

Helene December 9, 2009 um 4:31 pm

Manggy: my first experience with Calamansi was pre-Twitter, lol!!

Maya: you are braver than I am!!

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home December 9, 2009 um 5:44 pm

I too have met people I wanted to bottle up and take home with me!

Calamansi mousse sounds lovely – but the candied kumquats are what really caught my eye. Gorgeous.

Neel | Learn Food Photography December 9, 2009 um 7:14 pm

I think I skipped couple of heartbeats after looking these food photographs. I just loved these photographs. I really don't have enough words to compliment these photographs.

I am not kidding when I say my heart stopped beating when I saw these photographs.

glamah16 December 9, 2009 um 9:33 pm

You have insoired me to work with Kumquats this winter.I can imagine how long it took to squeeze!

Chaitali December 9, 2009 um 9:41 pm

I made the same mistake that you did when I first tried out calamansi limes. So sour!
I haven't dared to to buy them again after that experience.
Is it okay if I substitute the calamansi with limes? I hope it wouldn't change the flavor profile too much.

Katie December 10, 2009 um 3:08 am

They've been selling kumquats in my local store and I've always wondered what they would taste like. The name has always intrigued me and now you've provided a recipe to go with them, maybe I should give it a try and discover for myself their flavour!

Marvie Yap March 23, 2011 um 7:42 pm

Totally enjoyed reading the calamansi encounter haha! Calamansi in our local market is always green, i was charmed to see them in yellow. I love it in my tea, in my ensaladas, and in my sauces – but never thought it could be used in a yummy mouse tartelette. I must try this. Thanks for sharing the recipe – you're a genius :)!

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