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How To Make Seasonally Sweet Candied Kumquats And Fennel

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Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
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Before we get going here, we're going to preface this with the fact that black licorice is one of those things that used to make us squeamish, especially in its candy form. For a while, fennel and star anise did the same, until we realized what a wonderful flavor they can add when it's not so sock-you-in-the-face potent. Slowly but surely we weaned ourselves onto braised fennel, slow cooked with some chicken stock, white wine, and thyme. Then came the absinthe-washed sazerac glasses, followed by a love of shaved raw fennel salads with winter citrus and pistachios. And now we are converts.

Still, most licorice candies are a bit too strong and sweet for our taste. But this recipe we just whipped up with some of the stalks from the fennel we foraged is just a delicate enough accompaniment to candied kumquats.

Kumquats are coming in like gangbusters right now, but these poor little citrus often get pushed aside because they are just so darn piquant. But when they're candied, oh boy, are they delightful. And making them is so much easier than jamming or making them into a marmalade because there's no peeling involved. The skins on these little olive-shaped citrus are totally edible and delicious.

We made this riffing off the New York Times' candied kumquats recipe. They say that you can keep them in the fridge for 3 months, but when you see how good these candied gems are on a cheese plate or on top of some ice cream, we can guarantee they won't last that long.

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup kumquats, washed
1/4 cup sliced fennel stems
3/4 cups baker's sugar
1/2 cup cold water, plus more to boil fruit

METHOD

In a small saucepan, cover the kumquats with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain. Cover the fruit with cold water and bring to a boil again, this time adding the kumquats. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the same saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water and the sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, making a thick simple syrup.

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Pierce each kumquat with a paring knife. Drop the fruit and fennel into the sugar syrup and continue to simmer for 15 minutes

Remove from heat and leave the fruit steeping in the syrup unrefrigerated for 8 hours or overnight.

In the morning, Bring the syrup and fruit to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and store in a glass jar, or serve with a slice of double creme cheese and crackers. You can garnish the candied kumquats with fennel pollen to add color, too.