Monday, April 23, 2007

Mmmmm Cardamommm...

Was it just my imagination, I thought, or did the subtly spicy milky coffee I just supped as I reclined on the sofa, settle in my belly with a warmth like the physical feeling of happy contentedness?

I had got home a little earlier from a lazy day enjoying the city, and had decided to crack in to my treat to myself of a bar of the beautiful blue and white packaged Rococo chocolate. Discovering I had unwittingly bought white instead of dark chocolate I was momentarily disappointed. (I’m not a big fan of the pale stuff.) However, the cardamom it was infused with converted it completely from a sweet milky confection to something regal and intriguing and good.

I hadn’t had cardamom for ages - my first memories of it are of surprising chewy mouthfuls of a strong bitterness, when encountering whole pods in Dad Saucepan’s curries. And, its reputation stained by childhood distrust, I hadn’t afforded it a place in much of my cooking. Like much met with an older palate, it was joyous then to rediscover and re-learn the flavour and to find I really – really – liked it…

Inspired by this discovery, I found an old jar of pods in the spices collection, smashed some up and added them to the milk I heated to make the aforementioned coffee, with its feelgood aftertaste.

And, carried away on a wave of fondness for my new best spicy friend, I set to augmenting a recent VE&T cake recipe, which turned out pretty nicely...

Spiced Summer Fruit Mini Cakes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Sift 200g plain flour with 75g ground almonds, 2 tsps baking powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds and ½ tsp salt into a bowl.
Beat 125g butter, 220g dark brown sugar together until pale and fluffy
Add 3 eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Add 150g sour cream, beat until just combined and then stir in flour mixture, followed by 100g raspberries or mixed summer fruits (I used frozen ones defrosted and drained).
Grease a muffin tin, spoon in the batter and scatter another 100g raspberries or mixed summer fruits on top.
Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in tins for 5 mins before turning out.

PS - I’ve since discovered an utterly luxurious breakfast from a Jane Clarke article in the Times – you put a couple of crushed cardamom pods in with your porridge, and serve it with pomegranate segments and some thick greek yoghurt. It’s divine.

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