Cardamom is a spice I haven't used very often. This tasty version of my favorite type of cookie is from Samantha Seneviratne's book the new sugar and spice - a recipe for bolder baking. She provides great descriptions of the origins, uses and storage of various spices.
Samantha tells us that "Native to India, green cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum, is the fruit of an herbaceous perennial bush of the ginger family". The pods are harvested and dried, and the dark brown seeds found inside are ground for culinary use, either savory cooking or baking.
It is generally recommended that one buy whole cardamom pods which have a much longer shelf life than ground cardamom. Remove the seeds from the pods and grind only what you'll need for a particular recipe, since once the cardamom is ground it will lose some of its fresh flavor and pungency.
I remember one of the chefs I used to work with at Gracie's restaurant in Providence RI always toasted the cardamom pods first to bring out the flavor even more.
Samantha recommends using a light or medium roast coffee, so I chose Starbucks Veranda blend. I ordered my green cardamom from Spice Jungle, the same folks who run Beanilla, my favorite source for vanilla beans, extract and vanilla fleur de sel.
One thing I noticed right away as I read through the recipe was the higher ratio of butter to flour than most typical shortbreads. I was intrigued.
First I toasted the 20 pods which, according to the recipe, were to yield about a teaspoon of seeds or 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom.
Then I removed the seeds from the pods . . . .
and ground them in my spice grinder with 2 teaspoons of the Verona blend coffee.
The process is a bit fussy but not a problem if the result is a freshly ground spice with maximum flavor!
In a medium-large bowl whisk together the ground coffee/cardamom mixture (seen in the forefront on the left in the above photo), 33 grams/1/3 cup confectioners sugar, 50 grams/1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 162 grams/1.25 cups all purpose flour (seen on the right above).
Samantha adds the 169 grams/3/4 cup unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beats with an electric mixer on medium speed until the butter is blended in.
I chose to sand the butter in by hand and realized just how buttery this dough is. Oh boy.
Press the dough into the pan (9" fluted tart or springform pan in the book - I chose my rectangular straight sided tart mold simply because I like it).
Freeze for about 15 minutes. It firms up and stabilizes the butter.
Heat the oven to 325º F.
|pressed into the tart mold and chilled for baking|
Bake for about 40-45 minutes. The dough should look dry and be nicely browned.
Oh the aroma!
|just out of the oven|
While the shortbread is still warm cut it into shapes of choice. I like the baton size so I cut down the middle long ways and then cut narrow strips.
|lettin' em cool|
The flavor is unique yet scrumptious, offering notes of citrus and spice, and I can appreciate a certain gingery warmth. The texture is crisp yet tender with a buttery crumb. A keeper.
Steve even liked them.
Yes indeed. Thanks Samantha.