Articles / Dressing Citrus up in Its Sunday Best


Dressing Citrus up in Its Sunday Best

Published June 17, 2024

Kumquats, calamansi, grapefruit, and blood orange—in a whole new light

Mezcal Negroni Granita. All photos: Holly Haines

Now feels like a fantastic time to share a few of my current citrus-centric favorites: a labor-intensive but incredibly fun to eat kumquat posset, set right in the kumquat skin; a vegan olive oil cake using whole ​calamansi​; and a mezcal Negroni-inspired granita.

If you enjoy a creamy dessert, I can’t recommend possets enough. Similar to the ​syllabub​, possets are made by curdling sweet cream or milk with citrus juice. This was my first attempt and it worked beautifully—an indication of just how easy this recipe comes together. Possets also make a great party dessert—no spoon necessary!

Similar to kumquats, calamansi, also known as calamondin or Filipino lime, have tart flesh and, when ripe, sweet skin. For the posset and the cake recipes, kumquat and calamansi can be used interchangeably.

Any combination of citrus juices would work well for the granita. Blood orange and grapefruit give a beautiful pink hue, but Cara Cara or navel oranges would also work well.

Kumquat Posset

I’d never had posset before this, but I’ve seen it floating around the internet for some time now, so here’s my very extra-Holly crack at it. Posset is an English dessert of milk thickened (or curdled, which sounds worse but it’s what’s happening) with lemon or citrus juice. In this case, I’m using kumquat juice and setting the posset in the kumquat skins so they can be popped in your mouth like fancy Jell-O shots. They’re like the best creamsicle ever, and, although a bit tedious (hello, it’s me), they come together pretty easily with just a few ingredients.

Use a non-reactive pot—ceramic, ​​stainless steel​​, ​enamel-coated​—for this; do not use aluminum, copper or cast iron, as the acid may react with the metal.

The Whole Dang Calamansi Cake

Photo: Holly Haines

This cake uses whole calamansi, a Filipino lime used in both savory (a squeeze on ​pancit​ is chef’s kiss) and sweet (move over, key lime) applications. When ripe (bright orange, not green), its peel is sweet and its flesh tart—I’d say a kumquat would be a close comparison. Processing these little limes is the most labor-intensive part of the recipe — chopping them fairly thin is necessary, and picking out the small seeds takes some patience, but if you like the bite of a Campari, or Italian chinotto soda, I think it’s worth it. The rest of the recipe comes together quickly once the chopping is done.

Also, this cake is vegan—olive oil does most of the heavy lifting here, so use something tasty and good quality if you can. I like ​Graza’s sizzle oil​ for this (not sponsored, I just love that stuff). The crumb is moist and stays that way for days after baking. Thanks, olive oil!

Mezcal Negroni Granita

This granita is light, refreshing, a tiny bit boozy and ridiculously easy. It’ll take about five hours to finish, but 99% of that time is hands-off. It may be tempting to add more alcohol, but keep in mind that alcohol doesn’t freeze, so if you add too much you’ll end up with something more like a slushy than a granita.