Oh, My Darling Clementines

Like clockwork, I’m right back at my usual tricks again, infusing every morsel that crosses my path with a bit of edible sunshine while the real thing plays hard to get. Grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes are always close at hand, spilling out of the refrigerated fruit bin and lining the kitchen counters, decorating these dark spaces with a cheerful spray of neon colors. Their natural luminescence does wonders to lift spirits through the most gloomy of days, but it’s truly the bold, bright, astringent flavors that sustain me through winter. This year, I’ve added a new comer to that line-up of faithful fruity regulars: The petite yet powerful clementine.

Luck was on my side this season, as the kind folks representing Cuties Clementines were generous enough to ship an entire crate full of these glowing orange orbs straight to my door. Not to be overly dramatic, but what a revelation! Gone are the days of meticulously picking at the stringy pith of oranges before the segments become edible. The skin practically falls off of these juicy half-moons, nary a seed in sight. No muss, no fuss, they’re the ultimate winter pick-me-up. Naturally, they’re a boon to desserts and other treats as well.

Citrus supremes are a beautiful addition to all sorts of desserts, but they’re such a pain to prepare. Thanks to a combination of dull knifes and insufficient handiwork, mine always end up ragged, sad little slivers of their former selves; certainly nothing to crown a grand finale with. Clementines, on the other hand, pop out of their peels ready to use, unblemished and the ideal size to toss into just about any dish. Simply layering them with plain old soy yogurt, sliced almonds, and berries elevated my boring lunchtime routine into something worth remembering.

Bursting with flavor, sweeter and more mellow than an orange but still plenty punchy, clementines sounded like the ideal pairing with matcha. Cutting through the bitter powdered tea and balancing out the whole dessert, segments top chewy tapioca pearls, cradled in the easiest mini tart shell you’ll ever slap together. No need to break out the rolling pin, this crust is merely pressed into the pans and won’t slip or slide under the heat of the oven, standing tall without the need for pie weights.

Winter, you have officially met your match; the bright taste of these Cuties makes a day without sunshine no big deal. In case you’re suffering from the winter blues as well, I have good news! Furnished by Cuties Clementines, I have a coupon for one free 5-pound crate of these tiny fruits that one lucky commenter can redeem at their local grocery store. Recipients must be located in the US as a result. To enter, leave me a comment before January 18th at midnight EST, and tell me about your favorite citrus fix. What would you do with all of those clementines, if you can resist merely eating them out of hand? Trust me, five pounds sounds like a lot, but they won’t last long with any citrus enthusiast!

UPDATE: After consulting with my very favorite random number generator, together, we determined the winner of this sweet prize to be…

Commenter #12, Harvest + Honey! You will be hearing from me shortly, and for everyone else, stay tuned… Not to give away the surprise, but there may just be more clementines to share very soon.

Clementine and Matcha Tapioca Tartlets

Press-In-Pan Olive Oil Pastry Crust:

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 – 2 Tablespoons Water

Matcha Tapioca:

1/2 Cup Small Tapioca Pearls
2 1/2 Cups Vanilla Coconut Milk Beverage or Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
2Teaspoons Matcha Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

To Finish:

4 – 5 Clementines, Peeled and Segmented
Fresh Mint Leaves (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease 10 – 12 (3-inch) mini tart molds.

To make the crust, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the olive oil and lemon juice, stirring thoroughly to incorporate. Drizzle in the water very slowly, adding just enough to bring the dough together without making it wet or sticky. Break off about 2 – 3 tablespoons of dough for each mini tart mold and press it evenly across the bottoms and up the sides of the forms. Make sure there aren’t especially thick edges left around the base so that it all cooks at the same rate.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through the process to ensure even baking, until golden brown all over. Let cool completely before popping the shells out of their metal molds.

For the tapioca, begin by pouring 2 cups of very hot water over the pearls and allowing them to soak for at least 2 – 3 hours. This will soften them and prevent the centers from remaining after cooking. Rinse with cold water and thoroughly drain.

Place the soaked pearls in a medium saucepan along with the non-dairy milk. Whisk together the sugar, matcha, cornstarch, and arrowroot in a separate bowl to break up any and all clumps of the tea powder before adding it into the pot as well. Set over medium heat on the stove and allow the mixture to come up to a boil, whisking periodically and being sure to scrape along the sides and bottom to prevent anything from sticking and burning. Once it comes bubbles vigorously for a full minute, turn off the heat before throwing in the margarine and vanilla extract. Stir until the margarine has completely melted and distribute the hot pudding between the baked mini tart shells, filling them to the top.

Allow the tapioca to fully cool before topping with clementine segments and a few mint leaves, if desired. Serve at room temperature or chill for 2 hours to enjoy them cold.

Makes 10 – 12 Tartlets

Printable Recipe

This recipe is also my entry for the So Delicious 3 Course Recipe Contest. Wish me luck!

40 thoughts on “Oh, My Darling Clementines

  1. I love this post! I ditto the whole idea of having a summer treat in the cold winter and I love how you describe the fruit, especially the description “edible sunshine” and your line, “decorating these dark spaces with a cheerful spray of neon colors”! It brought me from my overcast day to the days of summer. Very vibrant!

  2. such pretty pictures, Hannah! I have also been GROOVING on cuties this year. I think I’ve already had 3-4 today. So yums. I’ve also been on a kiwi kick, since one of my yoga students gave me a big bag of kiwis. They go great together!

  3. Wow, clementines plus matcha sounds like such a winner! These photos made my mouth water. So yummy! :)

  4. You have just ultimate Collection of recipes. I have tried it, Thank for sharing.
    Your recipes are nice and healthy also.

    Keep posting

  5. I can’t believe that I’ve never thought of matcha tapioca before, but it sounds like a dream! I have just a smidge of matcha left in the cupboard. I just might have to use it to make this with some bright and darling clementines!



  6. What is the difference between a mandarin and a clementine? I noticed that people in the U.K. eat both and am interested in the flavour differences. We don’t get clementine’s here in Australia (for some reason). Whatever they are, a crate of them sounds like a wonderful excuse for experimentation. Clementine ice cream, clementine juice, clementine, almond meal and poppyseed cakes…and your wonderfully creative concoction. You have an amazingly inventive mind and I LOVE your creations :). You have outdone yourself this time. I adore matcha and have a nice foil bag of it (courtesy of my wonderful daughters) tucked in the dairy container of my fridge (where I also store my Korean condiments) as what else am I going to use it for?!!! ;) Going to share this one with my daughters as it looks so delicious. Cheers for something I can serve up to our visiting guests next week on what is promising to be the hottest day of the year so far 35C (Wednesday) so while you are rugged up eating clementine’s, think of me sweating away and trying to work out how to remove more layers of clothing without being positively indecent ;)

    1. I wondered the same thing myself for quite a while, but it turns out that clementines and mandarins are in fact different fruits. Clementines are actually hybrids of oranges and mandarins, so they’re more like a mandarin than an orange, but the flavor is subtly different. Some might argue that clementines are types of mandarins, but I don’t believe that’s technically correct. It’s kind of like splitting hairs, though!

      Oh, you’re in luck… I’ll no doubt start preparing more warm weather foods shortly, since I’m headed for Hawaii in just three days! Ah, 80-degree sunny days, here I come!

      1. A good blogging friend has just decided to up sticks and move from frigid Olalla Washington to Hawaii. She originally comes from Texas so I dare say she will enjoy all of that sunshine :). Make sure to eat bucket loads of mochi for me so that I can live vicariously through your in gestation ;)

  7. I love to just eat citrus fruits in the winter. Outside of straight eating, I love to use orange zest in baking, especially with cranberries: cranberry orange scones, pumpkin cranberry cookies with orange zest, oatmeal cookies with orange zest and cranberries instead of raisins. I’ve never tried clementine zest. Does it work as a substitute for orange zest?

  8. My favorite use of citrus is lemon desserts. I LOVE lemon cookies, pies, cakes, anything! I love clementines, too, they’re such a perfect snack!

  9. Love the parfait, add on some home baked granola and there’s breaky. I also like dipping segments into melted dark chocolate. I wonder if there is a recipe for vegan clementine curd?

  10. the colors on that tart make me happy. its been so grey and rainy and cold out here, that the burst of color and citrus is lovely!

  11. I love the Corsican clementines – they are found in markets and fruit stalls in Paris especially Spain. They are small, juicy and had a smooth skin, easy to peel. Among the citrus fruits, kumquats will always be a favorite. I’ve tried Cuties Clementines in Oregon, they are pretty good especially in homemade juices! This is a very beautiful olive oil pastry crust, Hannah, I’m looking for a crust recipe to make a pot pie (haha). I’m disappointed that in U.S. there aren’t any vegan and natural pre-made pastry puff dough except for the Pepperidge Farms, and in Europe, you will see them everywhere in the fridge/freezer and less than $3, organic and made with few ingredients. I need to give your olive oil crust a try, will this recipe fit a 9-inch tart pan? Matcha tapioca? Brilliant flavors indeed…with the juicy and delicate clementines & refreshing mints! I love this! Wishing you best of luck winning the recipe contest!

    1. It’s true, there is a dearth of good vegan pastry options when you want to throw together a dessert quickly. I haven’t tried to conversion, but I do believe it should fit beautifully in a 9-inch round tart pan instead of many little ones. It won’t be nearly as light and flaky as puff pastry of course, but it does have a charming flavor and texture all its own.

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