Winter seems to have dug its heels in…it’s very cold, and it will be for a while.

When the temperature dips, I find myself reveling in the enjoyment of seasonal citrus: in my opinion, these fruits are one of the bright spots during the darkest, chilliest time of the year.

I never tasted a kumquat before I was a blogger, though: I tried my first ones last year, when I turned them into this marmalade.

Kumquats are like small oranges, only they are oval-shaped and the peel and seeds are edible. They have a similar nutritional profile to oranges, as well: they’re quite high in vitamin C. I don’t love them raw because they are a bit bitter (interestingly enough, the skin is sweeter than the flesh), but when they are cooked in a sweet syrup (aka candied), they are transformed into something pretty heavenly.

Candied kumquats can be eaten alone, spooned into champagne (Martha Stewart’s idea), used to top Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream or cheesecake, or turned into other desserts.

Making them can be as simple as combining the kumquats with sugar and water, but in this version I’ve added some warming spices as well as Grand Marnier, a liqueur with its own hint of citrus. You can leave the alcohol out and just use more water, if you like, or make your kumquats even boozier by topping off the finished product with even more of the liqueur.

Ladled into small decorative jars, I think these candied kumquats would make a great homemade holiday gift: it’s not too late to make some, plus this recipe is very simple.

Candied Kumquats with Spices and Grand Marnier

Makes about 1 pint

Ingredients:

* 1 pint (2 cups) kumquats, sliced in halve and pitted (if some pits remain, it's okay...these can be removed later or left in)
* 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
* 1/2 cup organic sugar
* 1/4-1/2 cup honey (depending on how sweet you want the candied kumquats to be)
* 1/2 cup water
* 5 whole star anise
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 vanilla bean, split down the middle (or use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients except vanilla bean in a small heavy bottomed pot on the stove. Scrape the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the pod to the mixture. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat slightly, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the syrup thickens and the kumquats are very soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Remove and discard the cinnamon and vanilla bean. Discard the star anise, if you like (I personally like to keep it in the jar with the kumquats as it looks so pretty- just make sure you don't eat it). Optionally, you may discard any kumquats seeds that remain.

4. Ladle the kumquats into a pint size jar and top off with the syrup. You may add additional Grand Marnier for a "boozier" finished product, if you like. Refrigerate and consume within a week or two.

In addition to these candied kumquats, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the gift-appropriate recipes I’ve made here at Healthy Green Kitchen, as well as some ideas from other blogs that will also make fabulous gifts:

From My Archives:

Healthy Homemade Granola
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
Caramel Popcorn with Rosemary
Preserved Meyer Lemons
Homemade Body Scrub

From the Blogosphere:

Sweet Treats:
Homemade Candy Canes from The Knead 4 Speed
Raspberry Swirl Marshmallows from Mowielicious
Peppermint Marshmallows from Jun-Blog
Christmas Present Box Macarons from Raspberricupcakes
Candied Orange Peel from Cook Snap Repeat
Candied Nuts from In Jennies Kitchen
Homemade Truffles from Not Without Salt

Gifts in Jars:
Cranberry Cocktail Mixer from Whisk Write Repeat
Favorite Spice Blends from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Cranberry Orange Scone Mix in a Jar by Food in Jars
Apple Pie Jam from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (this one is amazing and is pictured in my collage above)
Meyer Lemon Curd from Sprouted Kitchen

Homemade All Natural Body Products:
DIY Foot Balm from Elana’s Pantry
Vanilla Butter Lip Balm from Elana’s Pantry
Natural Moisturizer at ReadyMade

Other Round-Ups I Love:
Edible gifts from Food52- I’ve made many of these recipes and they are all terrific; the boozy fruit- mine has amaretto- is also pictured in the collage above
Edible gifts from The Urban Baker
Edible gifts from Sassy Radish
Holiday Baking Round Up from The Parsley Thief

If you have an edible gift idea on your blog, please leave me a comment with the link below…I’d love to check it out!