Macerate Citrus (And Make This Trifle)

There’s a whole new world of opportunities for that bottle of vinegar in your pantry.

Now is the time to make the most of fresh, seasonal artichokes. Food 52 explains why braising is the best way to enjoy the elegant vegetable.

If you've ever macerated berries with balsamic vinegar at the height of summer, you're familiar with the syrupy mess, the sweet-sour puddle, that the fruit collapses into once the mixture has melded for a minute (or hour). The berries just barely retain their shape, their colors intensify, and everything around them swirls into a complexly-flavored bowl for dousing any dessert: ice cream, cake, pudding—really, anything.

The process of macerating fruit—think marinating for the sweet set—is loose and lithe, with very few guidelines. It's one of the most basic Not Recipes there is: Just haphazardly toss some amount of liquid—vinegar, liqueur, lemon juice, or even a simple sugar syrup—with fruit and watch it become something wholly new.

But what to do when it's not summer, when fresh fruit isn't sneakily jumping into your shopping basket at any moment? Turn to citrus, especially during the tricky transition from winter to spring.

While any of you still bundled tight may be gleefully anticipating the arrival of rhubarb or strawberries in early spring, don't wish the blood oranges and Meyer lemons away too quickly—citrus is prime for macerating, and then experimenting, with.

And among all of the beautiful citrus out there, from pomelos to finger limes to tangerines and friends, kumquats are one of the most intriguing. They're also sometimes the furthest from anyone’s mind to use in the kitchen (beyond eating one by one or mixing into marmalades).

So to combat the last of the winter blues, challenge yourself: Make a dessert with macerated kumquats and use the oven (two elements that take advantage of winter) to create this amalgam of Julia Child's butter sponge cake, Alice Medrich's white chocolate whipped cream, and macerated, roasted kumquats.


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Photo by Mark Weinberg

Roasted Kumquat Trifle

by Samantha Weiss Hills

"Because I like the whisper of Champagne vinegar, I used that as my liquid, adding a few tablespoons and a sprinkling of sugar to sliced kumquats. To make things really juicy, I let the citrus sit while I prepped the rest of the trifle ingredients."Samantha Weiss Hills

Servings: 4 - 6



18 ounces kumquats, sliced

4 tablespoons Champagne vinegar, more or less to taste

2/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

White Chocolate Whipped Cream [recipe]

4 tablespoons butter

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 egg whites

pinches salt

3/4 cup cake flour


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Macerate the sliced kumquats in the Champagne vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Feel free to layer in (or leave out) the ground ginger. This mixture can sit for just 30 minutes or up to 4 hours before you are ready to serve, depending on your time constraints or flavor preferences. Kumquats don't expel as much juice as their other peeled cousins, so once everything is in a bowl together, I'd give it a good mix and mash with my hands.

Since it needs to chill for a few hours before you whip it, this is a good point to make the white chocolate and heavy cream mixture for the whipped cream, using Alice Medrich's recipe. Store it in the refrigerator after it has cooled to await whipping.

Line a 10-inch cake pan with buttered parchment paper. Measure out all of your cake ingredients (including the remaining sugar).

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Gradually beat 2/3 cup of sugar into the egg yolks, add the vanilla, and continue beating for several minutes until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and forms ribbons when you drizzle it.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Scoop 1/4 of the egg whites over the top of the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Sift 1/4 of the cake flour on top, then delicately fold in until partially blended. Then add 1/3 of the remaining egg whites, sift in 1/3 of the remaining flour, fold until partially blended, and repeat with half of each, then the last of each and half of the tepid, melted butter. When partially blended, fold in the rest of the butter but omit the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Do not overmix; the egg whites must retain as much volume as possible.

Turn the batter into the prepared cake pan. Spread the kumquats onto a baking sheet. Set the cake in the middle level of your preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, along with the macerated kumquats. The cake is done when it has puffed, is lightly brown, and has just begun to show a faint line of shrinkage from the edge of the pan. (I think this last indicator is really key; it's a helpful visual cue to look for.) The kumquats can come out at the same time; you want them to have the consistency of a chunky compote or spread—they won't be as syrupy or liquidy as some trifle fillings.

While the cake and kumquats are in the oven, whip your premade heavy cream and white chocolate mixture to preferred consistency.

Remove the cake and the kumquats from oven and let stand in the pan for 6 to 8 minutes. The cake will sink slightly and shrink more from the edges of the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse on cake rack (or plate, in my case), giving the pan a sharp little jerk to dislodge the cake. Allow to cool for an hour or so. The kumquats can be served room temperature or chilled.

Assemble your individual trifles in a casual way: While you could cut the cake into uniform cubes, I'd tear it into a mismatched group. Toss about 4 or 5 cubes into each dessert bowl, top with a healthy dollop (or two) of white chocolate whipped cream, and as little or as much roasted kumquats as you'd like.

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