Bittersweet Baking Finalist #1: Candied Kumquat & Bittersweet Chocolate Cherry Mini Galettes

Our first finalist is in, and it was a unanimous choice from the large, diverse set of entries we received in our Bittersweet Baking contest.

Our editorial team was won over by Helen's simple and elegant mini galettes. She worked up two flavors: slightly bitter and tangy kumquats, and bittersweet chocolate with dark cherries - a favorite combination. Paired with rich pastry dough, these look a treat and a half.

Helen's explanation of why her entry is bittersweet, and the whole recipe below, plus more photos...

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From Helen:

A galette is like a pie, open to many interpretations. It can be sweet, or it can be savory. It can incorporate any seasonal produce or something out of a can. More so than a pie, it is quick to assemble, easy to make to order, and always looks charmingly rustic, begging for a bite.

The other secret about galettes? Well, it's hard to make just one kind. Kumquats are in season, and I have a freezer full of summer fruit. I candied the kumquats by slicing and poaching them in sugar syrup, keeping the skins intact to preserve their citrus-y, slightly tart, slightly bitter flavors. From my (frozen) summer bounty, I took cherries, sliced them into halves, and then doused them lightly with kirsch, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. After mounding the fruit on top of the galette rounds, I added dots of butter to the kumquats for a touch of richness and chopped bittersweet chocolate to the cherries - how can one not? And that afternoon, I had a plate full of fresh, still warm from the oven galettes - the perfect foil for my coffee.

We loved that Helen has a "freezer of summer fruit" - lucky Helen! Our guest judges will be announced next week and they'll make all the final decisions. Good luck Helen!

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Candied Kumquat & Bittersweet Chocolate Cherry Mini Galettes
Approximately 20 galettes

For the galette dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/3 cup ice water

Place the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir to blend. Add the butter, and using your
fingers or a pastry blender, gently cut the butter into the flour mixture until they become the size of peas. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and gently toss with a fork to incorporate the mixture. The dough should hold together when pressed; if not, then add a bit more water until it does. Do not overwork the dough. When the dough is ready, gather it together and press into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

For the chocolate cherry topping
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced into halves (if using frozen cherries, defrost them first, then drain as much
liquid from them as possible)
1/2 tablespoon kirsch
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

In a small bowl, toss together the cherries, kirsch, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.

For the candied kumquats
1 cup fresh kumquats, sliced into 1⁄4 inch rounds, seeds removed
1⁄2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, combine the kumquats, sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Then turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until the kumquats become slightly translucent. Set aside and cool.

To assemble the galettes: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the galette dough to an 1/8 inch thickness. Flour the surface and your rolling pin as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to either. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter and cut out individual rounds.

Divide the fruit mixtures evenly over the galette rounds, leaving a 3⁄4 inch border all around. Add a dot of butter to the kumquats and divide the chopped bittersweet chocolate evenly over the cherries. With each galette round, carefully fold the edges toward the center and over the fruit, working in one direction, five or six times. The center of the galette will still be exposed.

Place the galettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. At this point, if the galette dough has warmed up to room temperature, then place them in the fridge for approximately 15 minutes to firm up. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Best served warm.