Kumquat Liqueur

Kumquats are originally from China. In Cantonese, kumquats are known as ‘kin ku’ meaning ‘golden orange.’ About the size of an olive, this tiny fruit packs a big punch. The entire fruit is edible, rind and all. The peel is the sweet part, where as the pulp is extremely tart.

This is actually two recipes in one — Kumquat Liqueur and Chocolate Covered Kumquats


Kumquat Liqueur
30 kumquats, pricked with toothpick or skewer
2 1⁄4 cups sugar
700 ml brandy

Chocolate Coating
7 ounces good quality dark chocolate, melted


Placed the kumquats, sugar, and brandy in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake jar, then store the jar in a cool, dark cupboard.

For the next 14 days, turn the jar over several times everyday to distribute the sugar. If after the first 14 days the the sugar has not completely completely dissolved, keep turning the jar over and back at least once a week until the sugar has completely dissolved. This process can take 14-28 days, so be patient.

When the sugar is dissolved, remove the kumquats from the brandy mixture with tongs or slotted spoon. Leave the brandy in the jar and place in a cool, dark cupboard to age for about six months.

Chocolate Covered Kumquats
Dip the kumquats in melted chocolate, and place on parchment-lined sheet. When all kumquats have been dipped, store in the freezer. These make a delicious quick dessert with coffee.

Kumquat Liqueur
Six months later, strain and decant the liqueur into an attractive bottle or decant into smaller bottles to give as gifts.

Olive Oil Truffles with Fleur de Sel



8 ounces 60% dark Chocolate
5 1/2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Grey sea salt from France (Fleur de Sel)
1/4 cup cocoa powder


Melt the chocolate over a double boiler that has been heated and then turned off.

Add the olive oil and stir slowly until the chocolate comes to about 100°F (you can give this the finger temperature test since 100 is far from hot, it will be just about body temperature).

Stir the butter in until melted.

Slowly stir in the salt to taste, I usually use about 1 teaspoon but some find this too salty, so start with less and taste.

Let the mixture thicken up in either the refrigerator which will make it quite hard or leave it at a cool room temperature until thick enough to pipe into small balls.

Using a piping bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe out balls about the size of a walnut.

Refrigerate for 1 hour and then roll them in dark unsweetened cocoa powder.

YIELD: About 40 truffles. 

SOURCE: Chef Stephany Buswell

Honey Vanilla Caramels with Fleur de Sel

Get out your candy thermometer and make a batch of these rich, buttery caramels for the holidays! For anyone unfamiliar with Fleur de Sel, take some time to get to know it. Known as the caviar of salt, Fleur de Sel or (‘flower of the salt’ in French), is revered for its texture and flavor for many years. You can find it online or at many of our local specialty grocers.


1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons European style unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup raw Amen Bee honey
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon pure Tahitian vanilla extract
Extra Fleur de Sel for sprinkling


Butter an 9 x 9 inch square Pyrex dish. Line bottom and sides of the pan with parchment or foil and brush with melted butter or vegetable spray.

In a small saucepan, bring cream, butter and salt to a boil and remove from the heat. Set aside.

In a large, deep saucepan, combine sugar, honey and water, and bring mixture to a boil, over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan, until mixture begins to turn a light golden caramel color.

When candy thermometer reaches 235°F, it should be time to add the cream mixture. Stir in cream mixture slowly and carefully, since the mixture will bubble up.  Add the vanilla. Continue cooking over medium heat until the temperature of the caramel reaches 248°F on thermometer, about 10-15 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the prepared buttered pan. After about 30 minutes, when the caramel has cooled but is still rather soft, sprinkle with Fleur de Sel. Allow to cool, for another hour and a half or until the salt has set into the caramel and the caramel has firmed up.

Remove caramel from the pan, peel off parchment or foil.

Using a pizza cutter sprayed with vegetable spray, cut into 1 inch pieces. To store, wrap each piece in a 4 inch square of waxed paper, twisting ends to close.

Cherry Almond Fudge


2 cups sugar
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow crème
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted*
3/4 cup dried Bing cherries, chopped
Whole blanched (skin removed) almonds (about 2/3 cup), toasted*, for garnish (optional)


Butter 9-inch square baking pan; set aside.

In 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stir sugar, milk and butter until butter melts and mixture comes to a full boil. Continue to cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat; gradually stir in chocolate chips until melted, then stir in marshmallow crème until melted and thoroughly blended. Mix in vanilla, slivered almonds and cherries to distribute evenly.

With rubber spatula, immediately scrape evenly into prepared pan. Decorate top with whole almonds, spacing apart and pressing in lightly, so that fudge can be cut into squares between almonds. Allow to set in cool place. (This will take 2 to 3 hours.)

Cut fudge into 1 inch squares; arrange and cover with plastic wrap in gift packages, or place on serving dish. To store, wrap and refrigerate up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

* To toast almonds, spread in an ungreased baking pan. Place in 350-degree oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes or until almonds are light brown; stir once or twice to assure even browning. Note that almonds will continue to brown slightly after removing from oven.

YIELD: About 81 pieces

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of the California Almond Board

Vanilla Almond Caramels with Fleur de Sel


Cooking spray
1 cup slivered almonds, roasted
2 1/4 cups sugar
3-4 drops lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
2 cups light cream
1 cup light corn syrup
2 vanilla beans
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel salt


Line a 9- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Spray well with cooking spray. Spread almonds in bottom.

Place sugar in a medium pot with lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Stir and turn heat to high. Monitoring carefully, let color come to light brown, mixture will bubble. Add butter, cream and corn syrup, and stir. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of pot.

Reduce heat to medium and let mixture come to a gentle boil. Stirring frequently, continue to boil until mixture reaches 248°F (firm-ball stage) on candy thermometer; this may take up to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds; reserve, discarding pods.

Remove caramel from heat and stir in vanilla bean pulp. Quickly pour into prepared pan, pouring evenly over almonds. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt.

Let cool completely, and pull out foil from pan. Remove foil and cut caramels into 1 by 1 inch squares.

Serve, or wrap each one in plastic wrap or food-safe cellophane. Seal with tape or a little sticker, if desired, and store for up to 2 weeks.

YIELD: Approximate 64 pieces

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of the California Almond Board



Chocolate Truffles with Orange Olive Oil

This past fall, the Aptos Farmers Market had the honor of hosting Fran Gage, a noted author, baker and olive oil aficionado, as a guest speaker that included a book signing of her newest book, The New American Olive Oil. We learned how to choose olive oil, tasted olive oil (two excellent oils from our own farmers market!) and had the pleasure of trying one of her signature recipes: chocolate truffles made with orange olive oil. Who would have thought–olive oil and chocolate? (A healthy guilty pleasure?) This outstanding cookbook is informative, full of stunning photos, a joy to read, and full of exceptional recipes and ideas about how to substitute butter with heart-healthy olive oil with excellent results.


8 ounces 64% dark chocolate coarsely chopped*
2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup (1 ounce) powdered cane sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) orange or blood orange olive oil


Put the chocolate in a 1-quart vessel, preferably a clear one designed for use with an immersion blender.

Put the cream and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar.

Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit 1 minute. Blend the two together with an immersion blender using a stirring motion, going to the bottom of the vessel, until the ganache becomes less shiny and thickens to a pudding-like consistency, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the orange olive oil in a steady stream, blending constantly. Pour the ganache into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap without touching the ganache. Keep the ganache in a cool room for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To roll the truffles, place a piece of parchment paper on a baking pan. Use a 1-inch ice cream ice cream scoop to make balls of ganache. Put them on the baking sheet.

Put about 1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Dust your palms with some of the cocoa powder. Briefly roll the truffles between your palms to smooth them, then drop them into the bowl of cocoa powder.  After you have made 6 truffles, shake the bowl to completely cover them with cocoa. Transfer the truffles to a plate with your cocoa powder-dusted fingers.

If not serving the truffles immediately, refrigerate them in a bowl with some cocoa powder so they won’t stick together. Before serving, put them on a plate and let them come to room temperature. They will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.

•Fran suggested using a very high quality dark chocolate, such as Valrhona’s Manjari for the ganache.

YIELD: Makes approximately 36 truffles.

SOURCE: Recipe from The New American Olive Oil: Profiles of Artisan Producers and 75 Recipes by Fran Gage

See’s Fudge

Handwritten recipes for “See’s” Fudge have been circulating for years amongst friends and families and reprinted in numerous newspapers’ holiday food sections. The story goes that this recipe was given to Amy DeVore by Emma Julian, circa 1930, and is rumored to be the original recipe for the fudge produced by the See’s Candy Company, Los Angeles. Emma allegedly worked for See’s and later owned her own candy store. Whether the story is true or not, this recipe makes a delectable, creamy, fool-proof fudge.


1/2 cup butter
6 oz. package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
6 oz. evaporated milk
10 large marshmallows
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts are traditional)


Combine butter, chocolate pieces and vanilla in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine sugar, evaporated milk and marshmallows in medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook 6 minutes stirring constantly.

Pour hot mixture over ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until fudge is thick and dull (this doesn’t take long).

Stir in nuts (we like walnuts). Pour into lightly buttered 8 inch square baking pan. Refrigerate several hours to firm.

Makes about 36 squares.

Almond Butter Crunch

In the winter, fresh crop almonds are plentiful at our farmers markets. Toffee makes a sweet holiday gift from your kitchen and is very easy to make!


2 cups raw almonds
1 1/2 cups butter (use fresh, flavorful butter)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tablespoons tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, chopped


Place almonds on a baking pan and bake at 350°F, stirring occasionally, until almond turn golden beneath skins, about 10-12 minutes. When cool, finely chop.

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add sugar, corn syrup, salt and water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium high heat and continue cooking until mixture begins to boil. Wash down sides of pan with pastry brush and water to prevent sugar crystals. Continue to cook mixture over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is a deep golden brown and reaches 300°F (or hard crack stage) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and half the chopped toasted almonds.

Immediately pour mixture into a well-buttered 10 x 15 inch rimmed baking pan. Allow toffee to cool until set, at least 30 minutes.

As the toffee cools, melt the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a few inches of hot (not simmering) water. Let chocolate stand, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth.

Pour chocolate over cooled toffee and spread evently with a knife or flexible offset spatula. Sprinkle remainder of almonds evenly over chocolate. Let toffee stand at room temperature until chocolate is completely cool and set, at least one hour. To remove toffee from pan, gently twist pan to release the toffee. Break into chunks and store in airtight container.

Toffee can be stored for two days at room temperature, or chilled airtight up to a month.

Dried Cherry Truffles



8 ounces whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped

1 lb. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Cocoa powder, for dusting truffles


Line the bottom and sides of a small square dish with parchment paper.

Bring cream and butter to a simmer in a sauce pot. Remove from heat and add cherries. Let steep 5 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering hot water.

Pour cream into the melted chocolate and whisk until the filling appears smooth and glossy. It will have thickened slightly.

Pour truffle filling into prepared pan and let harden at room temperature over night. You can speed up the hardening process by refrigerating the truffle filling. The truffles won’t be as silken in texture.

When ready to finish truffles. Remove truffle filling from the pan and cut into small squares. With gloved hands roll truffles into balls, or keep in square shape and roll into cocoa powder. Place truffles onto parchment paper.

Store the truffles in a covered container at cool room temperature for up to 10 days.

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Anne Baldzikowski. Ms.Baldzikowski is an award-winning chef instructor in the Monterey Bay area. She has owned two wholesale bakeries and written countless food articles. She brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to her classes.

Anne has been teaching for the past nine years in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Department at Cabrillo College. She also teaches weekend professional classes, with a casual feel, through the Cabrillo College Extension and The Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell. Her most recent accomplishments include purchasing the equipment to make chocolate from freshly roasted and ground cacao beans into silky smooth chocolates as people did 2,000 years ago.

Attend one of Anne’s classes and you will leave with a box of goodies, recipes, and the confidence to produce beautiful and great tasting treats.

Apricot Walnut Divinity


3 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup cold water
2/3 cup chopped B&R Farms dried apricots
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts


In large saucepan, combine sugar, water and syrup. Bring mixture to a boil, cover pot for three minutes to wash down crystals on side of pan. Remove lid and continue boiling until mixture reaches 252F (hard ball stage).

As syrup is cooking, beat 2 egg whites until stiff in large mixing bowl. When syrup is ready, pour syrup slowly into the beaten egg whites, beating constantly. Continue beating until the mixture holds it shape and appears rather dull. Add nuts and apricots. Spread mixture in well-buttered 9 x 13 pan. Cool. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of B & R Farms, from Elsie Rossi’s sister.