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Chocolate Tart Renovation 

Candied kumquats add texture and bright contrast to dark chocolate.

Photo by Wendy Chan

Candied kumquats add texture and bright contrast to dark chocolate.

After 22 years, we finally renovated our kitchen. Refinishing our cabinets and removing the old countertops was a fun project for our family. During this process, our kitchen has been a semi-functioning mess: cabinets covered with plastic wrap, cookware on the dining table and a bare countertop. Luckily my sink and stove were still hooked up, and my favorite Ninja Foodi was sitting on a chair. Yes! l could still cook and bake for few days.

For no particular reason, I'd been craving something chocolatey the last couple of weeks. Perhaps there were few scrumptious dark chocolate cakes popping up in my Facebook feed? l knew it would be a challenge to make a three-layer cake with the current state of my kitchen but I went through my refrigerator for ideas. I found a jar of candied kumquats l'd made a week before, and half a jar of fresh cream I needed to use soon. I carefully peeled back the plastic covering from one of our cabinets, found some chocolate bars and a bag of hazelnuts. Although I'm not a big fan of chocolate, I enjoy it with nuts or fruit.

After awkwardly working around the kitchen, l made few chocolate hazelnut tarts with candied kumquats in my countertop oven. I shared some with friends and got great feedback. The recipe looks long but I promise they're not difficult to make as long as you have all the ingredients ready, and each step is simple. The combination of the buttery crust with the crunchy nuts, creamy bittersweet chocolate and sweet chewy kumquats is pure happiness, like getting a new kitchen. It's refreshing, light and nutty, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

Chocolate Tart with Candied Kumquats and Caramelized Hazelnuts

You can make the candied kumquats ahead and keep them refrigerated in a jar up to three weeks. For optional springtime flair, garnish further with a small handful of toasted pistachios, spring flowers or fresh mint leaves. If kumquats are not available, try using small Meyer lemons or other citrus fruits. Makes 5 tarts.

Ingredients

For the candied kumquats: 8 ounces fresh kumquats 1 cup sugar ½ cup water

For the crust: 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted ½ cup powdered sugar ¾ cup flour 1/3 cup almond flour ½ teaspoon salt

For the caramelized hazelnuts: 1 cup toasted hazelnuts ½ cup sugar For the chocolate ganache: 10 ounces (3 bars) 70 percent dark chocolate such as Lindt or Ghirardelli, roughly chopped ¾ cup fresh cream

Clean and cut the kumquats in half, removing seeds, if you like, though they are edible. In a saucepan over high heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add the kumquats, reducing the heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the fruit over a bowl, save the syrup to use later. Lay the kumquats in a single layer on a parchment paper to cool.

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease 5 mini tart pans (4 inches in diameter) with soft butter or baking spray.

Make the crust. Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and let it cool. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together. Drizzle the butter over the mixture and mix by hand with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes, until crumbly. Divide the dough into 5 portions. Press each portion firmly and evenly into each pan with your thumbs until the surface of the dough is smooth.

Bake the crust for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool completely in the pans.

While the crust is baking, it's a good time to chop. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of the candied kumquats and roughly chop ½ cup toasted hazelnuts. Set both aside to be mixed into the ganache later.

In a saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat until it forms a light brown syrup. Add the whole hazelnuts and stir, evenly coating them with the hot sugar. Remove from heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the mixture onto it to cool completely. Once the nuts and caramel have hardened, break the nuts apart.

Make the ganache. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and immediately pour it into the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is completely smooth. Add ½ cup of the chopped hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons of the finely chopped kumquats, mix evenly.

Now the fun part: assembling the tarts. Pour the ganache mixture into the 5 tart crusts, smoothing the tops with a knife or the back of a spoon. Arrange a few caramelized hazelnuts and candied kumquats on top of each. Refrigerate the tarts for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Carefully remove the tarts from their pans and serve.

You can find Home Cooking with Wendy Chan (she/her) classes benefitting local charities on Facebook.

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