I am terrible when it comes to spoilers. I don’t really mind when a particular TV episode, movie, or book is “spoiled” for me– if I’m truly interested, I’ll still watch/ read. In fact, I sometimes intentionally look up what happened in a TV show, partly due to the fact that I rarely like to be in suspense. I am terrible at delayed gratification. When I was a child, my mother would put wrapped Christmas presents under our tree over a two-week period leading up to Christmas, and because I couldn’t stand the suspense, while she was occupied with cooking dinner, I would sneak into our guest bedroom with a wrapped gift, slide a knife blade along the pieces and tape, and voilà! I could seamlessly re-wrap each present because, well, my mom was the one who had taught me how to wrap gifts.
I forget, however, that some people don’t enjoy spoilers, so when I recently spoiled an episode of Walking Dead for a friend, I felt that I owed her a batch of cookies. She said she was hoping to try Jess’ toffee chocolate chip recipe, and I told her that a batch would appear in the mail soon enough. I also used this opportunity to try a new recipe from one of our favorite cookie cookbooks, The Good Cookie.
I had recently seen kumquats in my supermarket, which reminded me of Tish Boyle’s recipe for Tangerine Kumquat Rounds, which are tangerine-flavored butter cookies topped with a candied kumquat slice. Kumquats are small, orange citrus fruit. They are the size of grapes, but they are sour. If eaten raw, people recommend to eat them whole, rind and all, because the sweetness of the rind offsets the sourness of the pulp. I remember seeing a kumquat tree in a friend’s yard as a child, and my mother always told me they were inedible. They are traditionally in season from January through April, and I found their bright orange color to be the perfect way to start off the early days of spring.
The most complicated part of these cookies was the candying process. After slicing them thin, the kumquat slices all went into a pot of boiling sugar water.
After bubbling away, and reaching a temperature of 220 degrees F, we had candied kumquat slices that we laid out on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
The cookie part is a traditional roll cookie, meaning that the dough is refrigerated to harden it so that you can roll it out and use cookie cutters. I personally hate making roll cookies– I find them incredibly frustrating and annoying. They make me want to throw things, whereas Jess doesn’t mind them. I begged her to roll these out when I grew too frazzled.
Jess’ key to rolling out cookie dough is using lots of flour, which I am loathe to do. You also need to work pretty quickly, because when the dough gets too soft, it’s impossible to use cookie cutters. Her secret? Delicately brushing the excess flour off the cut cookies with a fine-haired pastry brush so that excess flour won’t stay on the tops of the cookies when you bake them. This is especially helpful when you’re baking chocolate-based roll cookies, because I often get ones that have a white coating of flour on the top.
My equally important task, (or so I tell myself) was to place the candied kumquats on the centers of the cookies and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.
Soon we had a little army of cookies, waiting for the oven.
And then we had an army of cookies waiting for our mouths! Okay, maybe not an army. We tested a few (or more than a few) and then the rest went into boxes for shipping. Quality control!
It was lovely. Not our usual chocolate explosion of sweetness, but a sparkly, citrus-laced buttery treat. Great with tea, I would say– it’s such a pretty cookie that it deserves something civilized to go with it, don’t you think?
All the while, a small Siamese cat slept, with what I would like to imagine was a smile on her face.