By Nina Haroskiewicz
These precious Vietnamese-style kumquat candies (mứt tắc or mứt quất) are a popular Vietnamese New Year preserve. An ever-so-charming variation of Candied Citrus Peels.
1 pound of kumquats
2 cups of sugar
lots of water
Optional flavorings: ginger, cinnamon, anise, cloves etc
To create this stunning candy start by making 5 or 6 length wise slits in each kumquat leaving the top and bottom intact so they don't split. Lightly pinch the kumquats and gently remove the seeds. If you can't get 'em all, don't worry, it's more important to be gentle. Fill a pot with enough water for your 'quats to swim in and bring to a boil. Add your fruit to to the water and blanch for one minute. Drain and repeat twice more with fresh water each time. This step helps to reduce bitterness and retain color. Several pots of boiling water ready will help streamline the process.
Then refill a fresh pot with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, and add your 2 cups of sugar and let it dissolve. If you're feeling spicy here's where you can add some extra flavor: ginger, cinnamon, anise, cloves! Add your kumquats to the sugar water and reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the peel starts to become translucent. Check periodically to gently stir and spoon the liquid over any exposed kumquats. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, overnight or about 8 hours.
Using a slotted spoon, remove kumquats from the liquid and gently pinch them between your fingers, brining the top and bottom together, to form the signature flower shape. Any remaining seeds can be easily removed at this step. Once shaped, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet or your dehydrator tray. Dry the kumquats in the oven at 200°F or in a dehydrator at 135°F for 8-12 hours. You'll know they are ready when they are no longer too sticky to handle and can be easily peeled from their tray. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can store them in their syrup in the fridge or bring them back up to a boil, jar, and water-bath can for 10 minutes. Don't forget to keep all your delicious kumquat syrup to add to drinks, desserts, or wherever you'd like a dash of sweet, citrusy flavor!