When I was in school a few years ago, one of my favorite desserts that took me completely by surprise was a ricotta pie topped with a tangle of candied kumquats. It was that perfect balance of sweet and well, not so sweet, for me. So when I taught a class on making crepes last winter for the local Community College, I decided to turn it into a crêpe dessert. Each component works on its own, but the combination is magic.
If you haven’t tried kumquats yet, pick some up at the market today. They start ripening around Christmastime, and are typically gone by the end of the winter, depending on where you live. They resemble an oblong, dwarfed orange, and are meant to be eaten whole. The fruit is extremely sour, but the skin is surprisingly sweet, making the combination a perfect foil for each other.
I slice and seed them, and throw them into kale or endive salads; eat them whole (being careful of the seeds); and candy them to put on top of cakes or ice cream. You can candy them simply by thinly slicing them, removing the seeds, and covering them with 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Simmer the liquid until the kumquats are softened and translucent. Or use the below compote recipe that incorporates Lillet and honey, along with the sugar.
UPDATE!!!: THIS RECIPE JUST MADE THE FINALIST ROUND ON FOOD52! If you like the looks of it, please feel free to vote for it here by Tuesday, January 31 2012:
I’m really excited!! Thanks for everyone’s support!
UPDATE#2! This recipe won the Best Citrus Recipe on FOOD52. I’m thrilled – thanks everyone who voted and supported me!
Orange Ricotta Pillows with Lillet Kumquat Compote
- All the components for this dessert can be made in advance, and then assembled minutes before serving. Just reheat the compote before spooning it over the Ricotta Pillows.
- If not using the crepes within an hour of making and stacking them, interleave them with wax paper or parchment paper so they don’t stick together.
- The crepes freeze great in a freezer-safe zip lock baggie, and will keep easily for a few months. Just allow to defrost on a counter for 30 minutes before using.
- The Orange Crepes recipe makes 10 – 12 crepes; the Ricotta Filling and Compote recipes make enough for 6 crepes.
- Lillet is a French apertif wine. You can substitute Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc wine if preferred.
- 1 cup (4.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Using either a blender or whisk, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the egg; if using a whisk, make a well and place the egg in it. Whisk the egg and flour mixture together.
- Add half of the milk and mix / whisk until a thick batter forms. Add the remaining milk, the warm water, zest, and vanilla extract. Mix / whisk until the batter is completely smooth. Mix / whisk in the melted butter.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably longer (up to 24 hours).
- Remove from the refrigerator, and whisk the batter if it has separated. Heat a non-stick pan with sloping sides over medium heat. Coat the pan lightly with butter or with a paper towel dipped lightly in oil.
- When the pan is hot, pour in a small amount of batter using a measuring cup or ladle. Use 1/8 cup of batter for a 6 – 7” pan or ¼ cup of batter for a 9 – 10” pan. Immediately start to tilt the pan to allow the batter to cover the bottom of the pan evenly in a thin layer.
- Cook for about 1 minute, or until the crêpe bottom turns a golden brown. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds, until the crêpe is golden on the second side.
- Remove the crêpe from the pan to a plate. If stacking crepes for longer than an hour, interleave crepes with parchment or wax paper, slip into a ziplok and refrigerate. Crepes also freeze great!
- Lay a crêpe out and spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons Ricotta Filling (recipe below) into the middle, molding it into a flat square. Fold the right side of the crêpe over the filling; fold the left side over the filling, laying it on top of the first side that was folded over. Fold up the bottom, and the top down, forming a little packet. Repeat for the rest. Place on plates and spoon the Lillet Kumquat Compote (recipe below) over the little crêpe packets / pillows.
- Take a sip of Lillet. And then another. And try to say Lillet Kumquat Compote fast 3 times in a row….Kidding If you can do it even once, you’re a better woman than I will ever be.
- 2/3 cup ricotta cheese, well drained
- ¼ cup softened cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Zest of half of an orange
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
Lillet Kumquat Compote:
- 2 cups Lillet
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons candied ginger, minced
- seeds from 6 cardamom pods, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch salt
- 10 ounces kumquats, thinly sliced and seeded
- Combine the remaining ingredients except the kumquats together in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
- Add the sliced kumquats and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the kumquats are softened translucent.
- Allow to cool slightly before spooning over the Ricotta Pillows