This Cardamom Ice Cream is silky smooth and creamy. It’s out of the ordinary, a bit exotic, and delicately flavored. Eat it all by itself or dressed up with a tangy Honey-Apricot-Orange sauce and chopped pistachios.
As you can see, this post has a crazy long title. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. The recipe started out as a showcase for cardamom and ended up as a three act play. Mercifully, I will spare you the details of recipe development. On the other hand, I am about to talk ad nauseum regarding cardamom and its impact in my life.
Every time that I smell cardamom, it reminds me of the flavor of Bayer baby aspirin from when I was a kid. I loved the flavor of baby aspirin to the point of sneaking them from time to time when I was supposed to be napping. In those days, aspirin came in little glass bottles with screw-on lids. There were no such things as child safety caps before 1963. Gasp!
My mom fulfilled her motherly duties by warning me about the dangers of eating baby aspirin. She was sure to include the parts about having to go to the hospital and getting my stomach pumped if I ate too many of them. I had no idea what getting my stomach pumped meant, but I did know a thing or two about hospitals. That alone was enough of a dire consequence to keep my aspirin snitching down to one or two at a time.
Logic dictated that if Mom gave me one or two baby aspirin when I was sick, then eating one or two baby aspirin when I was well shouldn’t be a problem. Very sound reasoning for a four year old, don’t you think? AMAZING self-control, too, especially considering how much I loved the flavor of baby aspirin back then. It was sort of a cross between an orange Smartie® and an orange SweeTart®. It had more tang than a Smartie®, but less than a SweeTart®. mmmmm, delicious.
As was a standard practice for most moms when I was a kid, my mother stored the baby aspirin in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Playing in the medicine cabinet was my favorite naptime alternative. Naps were boring; medicine cabinets were not. Because I regularly practiced the art of stealth, my mother had absolutely no idea that I was a plunderer.
Our medicine cabinet was, of course, over the bathroom sink. The only tricky part about my plundering was getting up on that free-standing sink. I would perch on the edge of the tub and stretch out one leg, gripping the rim of the sink with my toes. With the opposite leg, I’d push off from the tub, grasping and pulling at the wall with my hands to assist with landing in the sink. The plundering began in earnest with my first stop being the bottle of baby aspirin.
I was a sneaky kid. Really sneaky. I still marvel at the extent of my sneaking skills. Only once did I ever get caught and that was because I dropped a bottle of Mercurochrome which broke and splattered the intensely orange liquid all over the bathroom. Man, did I ever get in trouble for that one!
Baby aspirin, however, was worth any amount of punishment. I craved the flavor it. I remember when the orange flavor was changed; such a overwhelming disappointment from which I have never quite recovered. But, hope springs eternal for the return of the real orange baby aspirin flavor.
Although the baby aspirin flavor from my childhood is gone, smelling cardamom can take me right back to those early years of childhood bliss. I do not think that it is coincidental that cardamom happens to taste wonderful with oranges. They were made for each other.
Apricots, oranges, honey and cardamom were all made for each other, too. Four different flavors, all living happily together. The sauce is more than just an ice cream topping. It can also work well on pancakes, waffles or French toast.
This cardamom ice cream is quite possibly the smoothest ice cream I have ever made. By itself, its delicate, sweet flavor provides a quiet, peaceful ice cream experience. When paired with the tangy honey-apricot-orange sauce, it becomes a bit of a party. The pistachios are great for complimentary flavor and textural components.
For your educational enjoyment–
Look at these colors! I had never stopped to really appreciate the beautiful shades of greens and purples in pistachios until I took these photos.
These are green cardamom pods. They can be a bit tricky to find. Look in the spice section of your grocery store or check out stores which sell Indian or Middle Eastern foods. Before adding the cardamom pods to the ice cream, crush them somewhat. Inside the pods are seeds like those in the photo appearing earlier in this post.
I like to use a microplane for zesting citrus. It does a great job of taking off a thin layer of zest without cutting into the bitter pith.
After zesting the orange, juice it. I used one large navel orange and got just under 1/2 cup of juice. Honestly, I believe that it was the juiciest, most fragrant orange I have ever encountered. The color of the juice was incredible, too!
I was reading about apricots in my copy of The Flavor Bible and learned that cooking them brings out their flavor. The book stated that apricots are one of the very few fruits that are rather bland when eaten raw, but that cooking “unleashes” the fruit’s flavor. Before reading that bit of information, I hadn’t given those facts much thought. I had always felt that apricots were rather underwhelming when eaten raw, but had enjoyed them canned or cooked. However, the fact that it was the cooking process which freed the flavor had escaped me.
This is the “sauce” prior to cooking. By the end of the cooking time the apricots will have pretty much disintegrated. Despite this, the sauce will still need to be processed with an immersion blender or in a stand blender or food processor. I used an immersion blender because it was really convenient to blend the sauce right in the pot.
When preparing the custard, be sure to stir it constantly while cooking, scraping the bottom and sides as you stir. Don’t boil the custard; keep it just below a boil. As it cooks, the custard will begin to thicken. It won’t get thick like pudding, but you will notice a change in the consistency. To test to see if the custard is ready, dip a spoon into it. The custard should coat the spoon well and cling to it. Use your finger to draw a line through the custard on the back of the spoon. If the line remains with well defined edges, then the custard is ready. For a full tutorial, refer to Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard on this site.
Start cooking, babes! This is so worth the effort. Even if you choose to skip the sauce, the ice cream will be a lovely experience for you.
Cardamom Ice Cream recipe adapted from The Spice House; Honey-Apricot-Orange Syrup topping by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’