Kumquat apple tart with Scotch whisky caramel and a cardamom-scented crust - Diversivore.com

Kumquat Apple Tart with Scotch Caramel

In Recipe by Sean6 Comments

Kumquat Apple Tart

With Scotch Whiskey Caramel

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I love to improvise when I cook. When I bake? Not so much.

I enjoy baking, but the precision of it has always put me off a little. I like cooking because I don’t have to measure, and I can decide to add or remove an ingredient while I work. But baking requires a lot more planning. So when it comes to inventing a baking recipe I get a little unsure of myself. To compound my worries, this tart doesn’t really fit into any conventional molds – it’s not a traditional apple pie, it doesn’t use a flaky/risen crust, and it doesn’t use a citrus curd or a custard. But I swallowed my fears and dove right in. And wow, am I glad I did.

This tart is just… I mean, it’s a little bit banal to say that it’s good, but it’s so good.  The crust has the buttery feel of a very thin shortbread, and it plays perfectly against the filling.  The apples have a bit of bite to them (I personally don’t like mushy apple pie), and the kumquats are bright, sour, and bitter all at once.  The caramel adds another layer of flavour and a great little bit of crunch that really brings things together from a textural standpoint.  And the Scotch whiskey? Oh boy.  Or… ach, laddie.  It’s difficult to describe just what the Scotch does that’s so spectacular, but I’m going to go on the record here and say that whiskey-and-citrus is a match made in heaven.  Did I mention that it’s in the caramel and the filling? If you’re going to change anything, you could try a different whiskey (bourbon would work), but for the love of pie, don’t leave it out altogether.

Ironically, writing a food blog and developing recipes has forced me to measure and plan more.  You can’t just pour a little extra something into your dish… your readers need to know how much.  You have to remember and write down every little step along the way (even if you think something should go without saying, like ‘remove from the oven’ – surely people know to do this with cooked food?).  You can’t just sit down and eat – you have to figure out how best to capture the dish photographically, and whether or not you need any photos of the prep.  So maybe I’ll do a little more baking – I’m half-way there already.

Recipe Notes

This is a relatively time-intensive recipe, but not a difficult one. Plan ahead and you’ll find that it actually comes together quite easily.


The crust can be substituted for another short crust recipe if you prefer, but I don’t recommend using a flaky pie dough. You want something firm to stand up to the relatively soft tart filling. Make sure that you get the crust nice and thin. If you don’t have a large tart tin like the one called for in the recipe, you can use a very large pie dish. If you only have smaller dishes, I would recommend either a) baking two pies, or b) scaling down the recipe, as it won’t work as well if the filling is very thick. The whole tart should only be about 1.5 cm (3/4 inch) thick.


Macerating the fruit, sugar, and whiskey helps blend and mellow the flavours while also serving to soften the kumquats. I recommend leaving the mixture in the fridge overnight and breaking this recipe up over two days.

I like the kumquat cut into tiny strips and the apple left as a small dice, but you can vary this depending on your personal tastes.


If this is your first time making caramel, this is a pretty easy one to work with. The most important thing to remember is that you need to work fast – the difference between caramel and burnt sugar is only a matter of seconds. Once the cooked sugar is a nice golden color, add the other ingredients and watch as the whole thing suddenly looks like it’s about to explode. That’s the fun part about making caramel. (Don’t worry, it won’t explode).

The final product will only be pliable for a little while, so make sure to pour it while it’s warm.  It will cool into a solid, candy-like caramel, and not a soft chewy one.

Nutritional Summary

For a dessert, this is actually pretty good.  It’s rich and complex tasting, so a moderately sized piece (1/10th of the tart) is actually just the right amount, and that doesn’t deliver too many calories (again, for a dessert).

A little high in saturated fat, which is pretty much unavoidable with all the butter.

Ingredient Pages

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.


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    1. Author

      Thanks for the compliments! I’m glad you like the add-ons — it’s funny, I personally don’t look for a lot of detail on the recipe itself (thought I put it in for others!), but I love extra details about the process, background, nutrition, etc. It’s my science background I guess… I just love the data!

    1. Author

      Thanks Elaine! I personally think an almond crust would be really good here. Let me know if you give it a shot!

  1. So we really like it. Our kumquat tree is loaded right now but half apple half kumquat seems a little assertive I’m making it again tomorrow wit only one fourth kumquats and the rest apple. Also my caramel was a little grainy and not the right color. I think I didn’t cook it right. I’ll find out if it’s ok to cook the caramel longer. Thank you for this!

    1. Author

      I’m so glad Kevin! I definitely have a fondness for strong citrus flavours, so I think it’s fair to say that the 50:50 mix might be a bit assertive for some tastes. I think I’ll actually add a recipe note up above on that subject. As for the hard caramel, was it too light? If so, then yes, you can definitely cook it a bit longer. Graininess in caramel is generally caused by sugar recrystallizing. This can happen if some sugar falls back into the pan from the edges. If this is happening to you, try adding a bit more water to the pan to get the sugar to dissolve again (reduce your heat too, as you don’t want to burn the caramel while you do this). Try to make sure that the edges of the pan are free from little bits of sugar when you start too, as they can fall back in and set off a chain-reaction that crystallizes the melted sugar. I generally just pour my sugar in carefully at the beginning, but some people like to wipe with a brush or even a use bit of oil on the outside walls of the pan (not the bottom) to keep the sugar from causing problems. Ultimately these hard caramels are more forgiving that soft ones, but they’re also a bit quicker to cook, meaning you have less time to error-correct. Hope that helps, and thanks so much for your input!

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