Where to start on this one??? I guess with my sweet neighbor who gave me a bunch of kumquats from her dad’s tree. She mentioned all the things she was making… marmalade, salsa, soaked in brandy… I had a bottle of rum, and oranges go well with rum, so why not? That was the beginning. Probably because of my brother, I gravitate towards infusing with fruit. He lives in France, and every year sends a jar of brandy or kirschwasser soaked fruit, usually cherries, delicious.

Anyway, this project started several weeks ago with the bottle of rum and the bunch of kumquats. I pricked each piece of fruit several times with a toothpick, plopped them in the jar, and filled to the brim with dark rum. Every week or so I checked the fruit to make sure it stayed covered as the rum began soaking into it. About four weeks later it was ready for the next step.

It was my neighbor’s idea to freeze the kumquats when they were ready. Because of the alcohol, they wouldn’t freeze solid, and by being so cold, the chocolate would solidify quickly upon dipping. After draining all the rum out of the  fruit, I spread them on a foil covered jelly roll pan, generously sprinkled brown sugar all over them and placed in the freezer for 24 hours. Oh, and the rum is very tasty, makes an excellent rum and orange juice cocktail.

Next, I needed a way to let the chocolate harden while the kumquats remained elevated. As I searched through the kitchen cupboards I found an almost empty container of quick oats and decided to cut slits in it and use it as the holder.

Then I filled a custard cup up with Gherardelli dark chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave for one minute. Working in batches of about 10 at a time, I took the kumquats out of the freezer, poked a toothpick through the stem end, and dipped it in the chocolate, covering the fruit completely. Then I poked the other end of the toothpick into the oat box. By the time I finished 10 kumquats, the first were already hardened and ready to slip  off the toothpick with a knife, put in a tupperware bowl and back in the freezer. After about 3 batches my husband came into the kitchen and laughed at the mess I made. You do have to work quickly, and after melting the chocolate 2-3 times in the same bowl, it was necessary to start a new chocolate bowl because the sugar was making the chocolate gritty. But the result is amazing. As my brother-in-law says “it tastes just like the holidays.” The flavor reminds me of spiked chocolate dipped orange peel I’ve had at a chocolatier. The only quality that may bother some is that kumquats do have seeds, which aren’t removed in the process. I let them freeze overnight, then broke out the seal-a-meal and sealed them up to save until Christmas. Hopefully between now and then, some more spiked fruit will come into the picture. I’m thinking cherries and peaches, but am open to suggestions….

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